The function of the kidneys as a filtering system for the body can make them vulnerable to infections. Infections that occur in the lower urinary tract can be carried to the kidneys, where if left untreated can lead to further complications, including bacterial infections of the bloodstream (bacteremia). Blood disorders can lead to reduction of red blood cell counts and the degeneration of existing red blood cells. Although kidney infections are less common in men they do still occur and it is important to know the signs, symptoms and treatments.

Common Causes

According to the National Kidney and Urologic Disease Information Clearing House (NKUDIC), most kidney infections (pyelonephritis) are contracted through the lower urinary tract, which consists of the urethra, the bladder and the prostate gland. Although urine is usually sterile there are certain circumstances where bacteria or E. coli can live within the colon of a man. These infections can be caused by poor hygiene and sexual transmission, but more often urinary tract infections (UTI) are contracted through the use of catheters. The use of catheters is common for many people due to dysfunctions in the bladder that need to be regulated by catheters.

Other Causes

Kidney stones may also lead to kidney infections, due to blockage of the urinary tracts. For men, an enlarged prostate gland can also cause the onset of kidney infections by slowing the flow of urine out of the body, leading to a retention of bacteria in the urinary tract according to Siamak Nabili, MD, MPH. In some cases, diabetes can lead to kidney infections. Changes in a body’s immune system can lead to a susceptibility of infections, which often shows up in the urinary tracts.


According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, frequent urination as well as the feeling of a need to urinate can be symptoms of kidney infections. Pain or burning sensations during urination is a common sign of infections of kidney infections. Pain in the abdominal region, groin and concurrent distension (bloating) of the abdomen may also be symptoms of kidney infections. More severe or untreated kidney infections can lead to fevers and may result in the presence of blood or pus in the urine.


A urine “dipstick” test that reveals the presence of nitrate or white blood cells can indicate any kidney infections. In cases where the source of bacterial infections is unclear, a urine or a blood sample may be taken and then sent to a lab for further analysis. X-rays and ultrasound may also be used to eliminate certain abnormalities, such as kidney stones, cysts on the kidney and a syndrome of reflux of urine from the bladder back to the urethra.


Antibiotics are more commonly prescribed for kidney infections. This approach is used more often due to the effectiveness of antibiotics in killing bacteria in the body. Oral dosage of ampicillin, amoxicillin and levofloxicin are the antibiotics generally prescribed for treatment of kidney infections. In more severe cases, intravenous injections of antibiotics may be prescribed, or they may be used for men who cannot tolerate oral dosage of antibiotics.