Infections and the kidney

We have separate pages of information on each of the following:

Urine infections (UTIs), cystitis and pyelonephritis

Infections in urine are very common. They rarely cause serious long-term kidney trouble, but may be painful, and are sometimes serious. UTI is short for Urinary Tract Infection. UTIs usually start in the bladder, where some infections cause no trouble at all. But they may cause symptoms of cystitis, but sometimes spread to the kidneys to cause pyelonephritis, which is a serious infection. More information about UTIs

Infections in those taking immunosuppressive drugs

Immunosuppressive drugs are used to prevent rejection of a transplant, but also to treat some diseases caused by your own immune system. People taking these get more infections.

  • infections with common bugs are more likely – both common viruses and bacteria
  • infections with unusual bugs may also occur – sometimes called ‘opportunistic’ infections.

People with very poor kidney function or on dialysis

Are more prone to infections of all types. Mostly ordinary infections, though dialysis patients are particularly likely to get infections of dialysis catheters. Arteriovenous fistulas formed with plastic or other artificial materials are less likely to become infected.

Infections causing kidney disease

As well as infections of the kidney itself, sometimes infections elsewhere in the body can cause kidney disease. This can include viruses, such as hepatitis viruses or HIV, and common bacteria. Unusual bugs can also sometimes cause kidney disease. More about infections causing kidney disease.

BK and other unusual kidney viruses

BK is a common virus, but it very rarely causes noticeable infections, except in people with kidney transplants. Other viruses can affect kidney transplants too. More about BK virus and other kidney transplant viruses.