By Healthtrip Team Blog Published on - 07 April - 2022

What’s The Difference Between A UTI And A Kidney Infection?

In understanding the difference between a UTI and kidney infection, we need to know what UTI is and a few things related to it, like what causes UTI and kidney infection.

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What Is UTI & Kidney Infection?

Bacteria cause UTIs or urinary tract infections in the urinary tract. The track itself is comprised of kidneys, bladder, and urethra.

The most common type of UTI is the infection of the urethra, known as urethritis. Another type of UTI can be an infection of the bladder or cystitis.

Similarly, any infection that happened to be in the kidney is considered to be a UTI.

UTIs need to be treated, but evaluation must be made in case of kidney infection, and treatment should be started immediately. If left untreated for a long, it can lead to severe complications. Hence it is essential to know when the UTI is a kidney infection.

Related Article - Can A Kidney Infection be Cured?

How To Identify Between UTI and Kidney Infection?

The symptoms between kidney infection and other UTIs can be similar most of the time. Symptoms for both can include

  • During urination, burning and painful sensation
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Despite frequently urinating, only a small amount of urine is passed
  • Cloudily or bloody urine
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort

In addition to these symptoms, when an individual experiences the following symptoms, it is an indication that the UTI has moved to the kidneys.

  • Sudden chills
  • Fever over 100 degrees F
  • Pain in the lower back
  • Pain under the rib cage around the spinal cord
  • Pain on one or both sides of the lower back
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Related Article - Where Does It Hurt When You Have A Kidney Infection?

What Causes UTI and Kidney Infection?

It is a known fact that women experience more UTIs than men. Hence, they are advised to wipe front to back instead of back to front. The latter movement pushes the bacteria towards the urethra from the anus.

Also, sexual activity can move the bacteria from the anus to the urethra; hence after intercourse, a woman should urinate to flush out the germs.

UTI occurs when the bacteria reach the bladder through the urethra and multiply. Other factors that can add to the risk of UTI are:

  • Diabetes
  • New or multiple sexual partners
  • Not urinating after intercourse
  • Maternal genetic history of UTI
  • Using diaphragms, spermicides, unlubricated condoms, or douches
  • Wearing synthetic material underwear
  • Underwent menopause
  • Not urinating for long hours
  • Physiological issue of having short distance between urethra and anus

Related Article - Kidney Infection - Know The Cause, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Kidney infection occurs when the UTI is left untreated, and the infection moves to the kidneys from the bladder. Apart from that, other factors that can cause kidney infection are:

  • Pregnancy
  • Urinary tract blockage
  • Presence of catheter drain
  • Weak immune system
  • A person does not understand the bladder is full due to spinal cord or nerve damage
  • A medical condition in which the urine flows back to the urinary tract is known as vesicoureteral reflux.
  • A physiological condition in which the urinary tract is deformed or shaped in a way that traps the bacteria.

Related Article - Kidney Infection - Symptoms, Prevention, Cause

What Should Be Done?

The best way to avoid UTIs and kidney infections is by taking care of your health. It includes practicing good hygiene, drinking enough water, urinating whenever necessary, and altering the diet if prone to kidney stones.

However, if you experience any pain on your back, sides, or around the lower rib cage area and other symptoms, visit a doctor immediately.


UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) is a general term for infections in the urinary system, while a kidney infection specifically involves an infection of the kidneys and can lead to more severe symptoms.
UTIs can include infections of the urethra (urethritis) or bladder (cystitis), and any infection in the kidney is also considered a UTI.
Kidney infections can lead to more severe complications if left untreated, so it's crucial to recognize when a UTI has progressed to a kidney infection.
Both UTIs and kidney infections can cause symptoms such as painful urination, frequent urination, cloudy or bloody urine, abdominal discomfort, fever, chills, lower back pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Symptoms that indicate a UTI has progressed to a kidney infection include fever, chills, severe back pain, pain around the rib cage, nausea, and vomiting.
UTIs are commonly caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract through the urethra. Factors such as poor hygiene, sexual activity, diabetes, and urinary tract abnormalities can increase the risk.
Kidney infections usually occur when a UTI is left untreated, allowing the infection to spread to the kidneys. Other factors include urinary tract blockages, weak immune systems, and urinary reflux.
Practicing good hygiene, staying hydrated, urinating regularly, and making dietary adjustments can help prevent UTIs and kidney infections.
If you experience symptoms of UTI or kidney infection, especially severe pain, fever, or vomiting, it's important to see a doctor promptly.
Taking care of your health by maintaining good hygiene, drinking water, urinating when needed, and making lifestyle adjustments can help prevent these infections.