How Fast Can a Kidney Infection Kill You? - Healthroid

How Fast Can a Kidney Infection Kill You?

Priyank Pandey
Written by Priyank Pandey on June 05, 2023

A kidney infection is a serious condition that can be fatal if left untreated or not properly managed. The kidneys serve the important function of filtering waste products and excess water from the blood, and if they become infected, the entire body can suffer.

So how fast can a kidney infection kill you? While every case is different and individual factors such as age, overall health, and severity of infection play a role, it is possible for a kidney infection to lead to death in a matter of days.

Here are some of the complications that can occur if a kidney infection is not treated:

Sepsis: One of the most serious complications of a kidney infection is sepsis, where the infection spreads throughout the bloodstream. This can quickly lead to organ failure and death if not promptly treated with antibiotics and other supportive measures.

Pyelonephritis: Another potentially deadly complication of pyelonephritis is an abscess on the kidney. An abscess is a collection of pus that forms due to an infection and can rupture if not drained. When an abscess ruptures inside the body, it can release toxic bacteria into the bloodstream leading to sepsis.

Kidney failure: Kidney failure, also called renal failure, is a condition in which the kidneys lose their ability to filter waste and excess fluids from the blood. High blood pressure, swelling, and fatigue are all common symptoms of kidney failure.

It’s also important to note that certain populations are at higher risk for severe outcomes from kidney infections. These include elderly individuals (above 65 yrs), immunocompromised people (including cancer patients under chemotherapy), pregnant women & Children under 5 years old – particularly those who have structural abnormalities or urinary tract abnormalities that predispose them to recurrent infections.

Prevention is always better than treatment. Follow good kidney health practices like staying hydrated, practicing good hygiene, avoiding holding urine for extended periods of time, and promptly treating any UTIs to prevent the infection from spreading.


When it comes to kidney infections, symptoms can be subtle at first but quickly worsen if left untreated. Common signs include fever, chills, back or side pain, frequent urination, and a strong urge to urinate even when the bladder is empty. Some patients also experience cloudy or bloody urine and fatigue.

Signs to Look Out For

One of the deadliest infections that can affect your kidneys is pyelonephritis, which is a type of kidney infection. While this condition may not always lead to fatal consequences, it can rapidly progress in certain individuals and become life-threatening. It is essential to recognize the signs and symptoms of a kidney infection early on to initiate prompt treatment.

Some warning signs that may indicate an infection has progressed include fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit, chills or sweats, severe abdominal pain or discomfort, nausea or vomiting, and difficulty urinating. Other accompanying symptoms may include fatigue or weakness.

In addition to these physical symptoms, individuals with underlying conditions such as diabetes or compromised immune systems are at higher risk for developing severe complications from a kidney infection. Therefore it’s important not to ignore any concerning symptoms and seek medical attention immediately if you suspect you have a kidney infection. Early diagnosis and proper treatment can help prevent dangerous complications like sepsis and potentially save lives.


Kidney infections are caused by bacteria or viruses that enter the urinary tract and travel to the kidneys. The most common cause of kidney infection is a bacterium called Escherichia coli (E. coli), which normally lives in the intestines. Other bacteria such as Klebsiella, Enterococcus, and Proteus can also cause kidney infections, although they are less common.

Risk factors for developing a kidney infection include having a weakened immune system, urinary tract abnormalities or blockages, using catheters or other medical devices that can introduce bacteria into the urinary tract, and frequent bladder infections. Women are more prone to kidney infections than men due to their shorter urethra.

Common Triggers of Kidney Infections

Common triggers of kidney infections include urinary tract obstructions or abnormalities, such as kidney stones or an enlarged prostate gland in men. A weakened immune system due to underlying medical conditions or medications that suppress the immune system also raises the risk of developing a kidney infection.

Pregnant women are also at an increased risk of developing kidney infections due to changes in their urinary tract and hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy. Women who use diaphragms for birth control may be more likely to develop UTIs and subsequent kidney infections since these devices put pressure on the bladder and urethra. Lastly, frequent sexual activity can introduce bacteria into the urinary tract and increase the likelihood of developing a bladder infection that can spread to the kidneys.


Complications from kidney infections can be severe and, in rare cases, even deadly. If left untreated or not treated properly, the infection can spread to other parts of the body and cause sepsis. Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to an infection and causes inflammation throughout the body.

Sepsis can lead to organ failure and shock, which can be fatal if not treated immediately. Additionally, chronic kidney infections that are left untreated or not properly managed can cause permanent damage to the kidneys. This damage may eventually result in kidney failure, which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant.

It’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you suspect you have a kidney infection. With prompt treatment and proper management of complications, most people recover without any long-term effects. However, delaying treatment can lead to serious complications and even death in some cases.

Potential Risks of Untreated Infection

Untreated kidney infections can lead to severe complications and even death. If the infection spreads from the kidneys to other organs, it can cause sepsis, a life-threatening condition where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. Sepsis can lead to organ failure, shock, and eventually death.

In addition to sepsis, untreated kidney infections can also cause permanent damage to the kidneys. Over time, this damage can lead to chronic kidney disease or even kidney failure. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove infected tissue or drain an abscess caused by the infection.


Treatment options for kidney infections include antibiotics and supportive care.

Prompt diagnosis of a kidney infection is crucial to prevent serious complications. Antibiotics are prescribed to kill the bacteria causing the infection and reduce inflammation in the kidneys. Supportive care includes drinking plenty of fluids, rest, pain management, and monitoring of blood pressure levels. In severe cases where there is an obstruction or abscess formation in the urinary tract or kidney tissue damage due to a prolonged illness, surgery may be needed.

Delayed treatment increases the risk of complications like sepsis which can be fatal if not treated promptly. Therefore early intervention with appropriate treatment should always be sought when dealing with kidney infections or any other medical conditions that could potentially be life-threatening if left unchecked.

Options Available for Treating Kidney Infections

Treatment options for kidney infections include antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim). These medications are effective in treating most bacterial infections and usually help to clear up symptoms within a few days. However, in some cases where the infection is more severe, hospitalization may be necessary for intravenous antibiotics and other supportive therapies.

It is important to seek medical attention promptly if you suspect you have a kidney infection to prevent potentially life-threatening complications such as sepsis or kidney damage. With proper treatment, most people recover from kidney infections without any long-term problems, but delaying treatment can increase your risk of serious complications including death.


The speed at which a kidney infection can kill you depends on various factors including how quickly it is diagnosed and treated. In most cases, prompt treatment with antibiotics will effectively clear up the infection within a few days. However, if left untreated or misdiagnosed for too long, it can cause serious damage to the kidneys resulting in renal failure or even death. It is important to seek medical attention immediately if you experience any symptoms of a kidney infection to prevent further complications and ensure a successful recovery.

Length and Process of Recovery

The length and process of recovery from a kidney infection can vary depending on the severity of the infection, the individual’s overall health, and how quickly they seek medical treatment. In mild cases, antibiotics may be prescribed for a few weeks to clear up the infection. However, if the infection has spread or caused complications such as sepsis or kidney damage, hospitalization, and more aggressive treatment may be necessary.

Recovery time can range from a few days to several weeks or even months in severe cases. During this time, it is important for individuals to stay hydrated and rest as much as possible. They should also continue taking any prescribed medications as directed by their healthcare provider. Follow-up appointments with a doctor may also be necessary to monitor progress and ensure full recovery.


In conclusion, a kidney infection can be a severe health issue if left untreated. It is crucial to seek medical attention immediately upon noticing symptoms such as fever, chills, back pain, nausea, and vomiting. While it may not always result in death, complications from an untreated kidney infection can lead to sepsis or even renal failure.

The timeline for how fast a kidney infection can kill you depends on several factors such as age and overall health status. For some patients, the infection may progress rapidly and cause life-threatening complications within a matter of days. However, others may experience milder symptoms that gradually worsen over time and take several weeks to become fatal.

To prevent the risk of developing a kidney infection that could potentially lead to death or other serious complications, it is essential to practice good hygiene habits such as washing your hands frequently and drinking plenty of water. Additionally, seeking medical attention promptly when experiencing any symptoms related to a possible kidney infection is critical for early detection and treatment.

Published on June 5, 2023 and Last Updated on June 5, 2023 by: Priyank Pandey

Priyank Pandey
Written by Priyank Pandey on June 05, 2023

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