Pyelonephritis means infection of the kidney. This usually starts as a urinary tract infection (UTI). A UTI is an inflammation that occurs when germs get into the urinary tract. These germs usually enter the urinary tract through the urethra (tube that carries urine out of the body). These germs may then go up to the urinary bladder (the organ where urine is stored before it is passed out of the body) and sometimes to the kidney. When they go to the kidney, it is called pyelonephritis. Sometimes germs may reach the kidneys from the bloodstream. Infections of the kidney are less common; however, they are more serious. Repeated kidney infections may hurt the kidney and lead to scarring. Very rarely, when an individual has a block or other problem in the urinary tract, then infection may continue to damage the kidneys and cause what is called chronic pyelonephritis. This can cause kidney failure. Certain individuals have a greater risk of getting UTIs.
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