Unpacking That Mysterious Back Pain and Fever

It’s easy to brush off back pain as just another ache resulting from a strenuous day, poor posture, or even an uncomfortable bed. But what if your pain isn’t fleeting? What if it’s accompanied by fever, chills, and other worrying symptoms? You could be dealing with more than just ordinary soreness—you might be experiencing the symptoms of a kidney infection.

Also known as pyelonephritis, a kidney infection is a serious illness caused by E. coli bacteria entering your urethra, the tube that carries urine out of your body. The bacteria then travel upward into the bladder and one or both kidneys. Unlike cystitis, a common but less severe bladder infection, a kidney infection poses a much greater risk and can cause permanent kidney damage if not treated promptly.

Red Flags to Watch For

If you’re concerned that you might have a kidney infection, it’s crucial to identify the signs early on. The symptoms of a kidney infection often manifest quickly, appearing within a matter of days or even hours. The most common symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Pain or discomfort in your side, lower back, abdomen, or pelvic region
  • Persistent high fever
  • Shivering or chills
  • Extreme weakness or fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Intermittent diarrhea

Additional symptoms may arise if you’re also contending with cystitis or urethritis, two types of urinary tract infections. These extra symptoms might include:

  • Painful or burning sensation during urination
  • Frequent or urgent need to urinate
  • The feeling that you’re unable to urinate fully
  • Blood in your urine
  • Cloudy, foul-smelling urine

When Should You Seek Medical Attention?

Recognizing the symptoms early on is crucial to receive prompt and effective treatment. If you experience abdominal or back pain accompanied by fever or changes in your urination patterns, consult a healthcare professional as soon as possible. The situation is especially urgent for children who show signs of a kidney infection, such as a lack of energy, irritability, poor feeding habits, and abdominal pain.

Who’s Most at Risk for Kidney Infections?

While kidney infections are relatively uncommon, they tend to be more prevalent among women due to the shorter length of the female urethra and closer proximity to the anus, making it easier for bacteria to enter the urinary tract. Women are six times more likely to experience a kidney infection than men. Children may also be at higher risk, particularly if they have congenital abnormalities affecting their urinary tract.

Are Kidney Infections Preventable?

While it’s impossible to eliminate the risk, you can reduce the likelihood of developing a kidney infection by:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Maintaining good hygiene in the genital area
  • Treating constipation as soon as it occurs

Where to Go for Help

If you suspect a kidney infection, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention. Village Emergency Centers is here for you. We offer fast admissions and discharges, rapid lab results, and 24/7 emergency care provided by board-certified doctors. All six of our convenient locations in the Greater Houston Area accept private insurance. So, if you’re concerned about a kidney infection or other health issue, your next step is clear—visit our website to find a Village near you and stop by as soon as possible.