Department of Health


Pyelonephritis describes a urinary tract infection (UTI) that affects the upper part of the urinary tract. It is the more serious of the UTIs as it may affect the kidneys.

Women are more at risk than men of developing a UTI. The following can be attributed to increasing the risk of UTIs in women:

  • The use of spermicide jelly or a diaphragm for contraception
  • A new sexual partner; that is an increase in sexual activity
  • A mother with a history of UTIs, and
  • A sufferer of constipation.

Women are also more likely to get an infection at particular times through their menstrual cycle, or while pregnant.

In men, a UTI is normally the result of a sexually transmitted disease, or can develop when they have trouble with urine flow.

Most UTIs (including Pyelonephritis) have the following common symptoms:

  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Cloudy, bloody or very smelly urine
  • Presence of pain in the lower part of your body
  • The need or urge to urinate more often, even if is it only a little bit, and
  • A fever, back pain and vomiting may also be present if the infection has moved to the kidneys.

Further information

For more information about this topic, please contact your doctor or Kidney Health Australia:

Phone: Kidney Information Line 1800 682 531 (freecall)