Difference Between Pyelonephritis Vs Glomerulonephritis

Pyelonephritis Vs Glomerulonephritis

Pyelonephritis vs Glomerulonephritis: Pyelonephritis results from a bacterial infection in the kidneys, whereas Glomerulonephritis involves immune-mediated inflammation of the kidney's filtration units. Pyelonephritis presents with fever, flank pain, and urinary symptoms, while Glomerulonephritis commonly exhibits hematuria, proteinuria, and hypertension. Diagnosis involves urine analysis and imaging for Pyelonephritis, and a combination of clinical assessment, blood, and urine tests for Glomerulonephritis. Treatment includes antibiotics for Pyelonephritis and managing inflammation and blood pressure for Glomerulonephritis.

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Difference between Pyelonephritis and Glomerulonephritis

Pyelonephritis is a bacterial infection that mostly affects the renal pelvis and parenchyma, whereas Glomerulonephritis is glomerular inflammation caused by autoimmune diseases or infections. The table below provides the differences between Pyelonephritis and Glomerulonephritis.





Bacterial infection of the kidneys, typically ascending from the lower urinary tract

Inflammation of the glomeruli in the kidneys, often due to autoimmune disorders or infections


Typically caused by bacterial infection, commonly E. coli

Can be caused by autoimmune diseases, infections (such as streptococcal infections), or systemic diseases


Primarily affects the renal pelvis and renal parenchyma

Primarily affects the glomeruli, the filtering units of the kidneys


Fever, flank pain, urinary urgency or frequency, dysuria, hematuria

Hematuria, proteinuria, hypertension, edema, oliguria, fatigue

Diagnostic tests

Urinalysis, urine culture, blood tests (e.g., CBC, CMP), imaging (e.g., ultrasound, CT scan)

Urinalysis, kidney biopsy, blood tests (e.g., ANA, anti-GBM antibody), imaging (e.g., ultrasound, MRI)


Antibiotics to treat the underlying bacterial infection, supportive care

Treatment varies based on the underlying cause (e.g., immunosuppressive therapy for autoimmune causes), supportive care, management of complications


Generally good with prompt treatment, but complications can occur if untreated

Prognosis varies depending on the cause, extent of kidney damage, and response to treatment; can range from mild and reversible to severe and chronic kidney disease

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What is Pyelonephritis?

Pyelonephritis is a kind of UTI that is usually brought on by a bacterial infection and involves inflammation of the kidney tissue and renal pelvis. It frequently happens when bacteria enter the kidneys from the lower urinary system. Fever, flank pain, frequent or urgent urination, dysuria (painful urination), and hematuria (blood in the urine) are possible symptoms. To avoid complications like kidney abscess or sepsis, prompt diagnosis, and antibiotic treatment are crucial.

Causes of Pyelonephritis 

  • UTIs: UTIs frequently occur before Pyelonephritis. If treatment is not received, bacteria can enter the urinary tract through the urethra, grow in the bladder, and eventually move to the kidneys.
  • Catheterization: Indwelling urinary catheters can introduce bacteria into the urinary tract and raise the risk of infection, particularly Pyelonephritis. They are frequently used in hospitalized patients or people with urinary retention problems.
  • Pregnancy: Hormonal changes that might impair urinary tract function and cause urine stasis put pregnant women at higher risk of developing Pyelonephritis. Furthermore, pressure from the expanding uterus may compress the urinary canal, making it more challenging to empty the bladder.
  • Diabetes: If left unchecked, diabetes can compromise the body's defenses against infections, particularly urinary tract infections that can lead to Pyelonephritis.
  • Immunocompromised Conditions: HIV/AIDS, chemotherapy, long-term corticosteroid usage, and other conditions that compromise immunity might make a person more vulnerable to infections, including Pyelonephritis. 

Symptoms of Pyelonephritis

  • High Fever: Pyelonephritis frequently results in a temperature above 100.4°F (38°C). Sweating or chills may accompany an abrupt onset of fever.
  • Flank Pain: Pyelonephritis frequently causes pain at the side or rear of the diseased kidney or kidneys. Either strong and severe or dull and prolonged discomfort is possible. When you move or apply pressure to the afflicted location, it can get worse.
  • Abdominal Pain: The lower abdomen and the region surrounding the bladder are the most common sites of abdominal pain in people with Pyelonephritis.
  • Painful Urination: Pyelonephritis can cause dysuria, which is discomfort or a burning feeling during urinating. This symptom is frequently linked to involvement of the lower urinary system. 
  • Urinating Frequently (Polyuria): People who have Pyelonephritis may feel the need to urinate more frequently than usual. Feelings of urgency may accompany this sensation.
  • Blood in the Urine (Hematuria): Pyelonephritis can cause hematuria or the presence of blood in the urine. The color of the urine can seem cola, pink, or red.
  • Urine That Is Cloudy or Has a Bad Smell: Pyelonephritis can alter the color or smell of urine. Urine may smell strongly of something unpleasant or be hazy. 

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What is Glomerulonephritis?

Glomerulonephritis is a disorder characterized by inflammation of the glomeruli, which are the microscopic filters in the kidneys that remove waste materials and excess fluid from the blood and generate urine. The glomeruli may not function correctly when they are inflamed, which can result in poor kidney function and a variety of symptoms.

Causes of Glomerulonephritis

  • Immune System Disorders: Immune system anomalies are the root cause of several Glomerulonephritis types. In these situations, the glomeruli may unintentionally be the target of an immune system attack, which can cause inflammation and damage. IgA nephropathy, membranoproliferative Glomerulonephritis (MPGN), and systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus nephritis) are a few immune system conditions linked to Glomerulonephritis.
  • Infections: Several infections have the potential to initiate or exacerbate Glomerulonephritis. Post-infectious Glomerulonephritis can result from bacterial infections, such as streptococcal infections (strep throat and skin infections). Pulmonary inflammation can also be brought on by viral illnesses, such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
  • Autoimmune Diseases: These are conditions where the immune system of the body targets and destroys its tissues. Glomerulonephritis can be caused by autoimmune disorders such as lupus nephritis, anti-glomerular basement membrane (anti-GBM) disease, and Goodpasture syndrome.
  • Genetic Factors: Due to a hereditary component, certain types of Glomerulonephritis may run in families. Familial IgA nephropathy and Alport syndrome, which are brought on by mutations in the genes that code for glomerular basement membrane proteins, are two examples.
  • Medications and Toxins: Glomerulonephritis can be brought on by or caused by several drugs and environmental toxins. Drug-induced Glomerulonephritis has been linked to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), antibiotics (such as cephalosporins and penicillins), and specific herbal supplements. Damage to the glomerulus can also result from exposure to certain hydrocarbons or substances like mercury. 

Symptoms of Glomerulonephritis

  • Hematuria: One of the main signs of Glomerulonephritis is blood in the urine. The color of the urine can seem cola, pink, or red. Urine tests are the only way to identify blood in the urine when it is not readily apparent to the unaided eye.
  • Proteinuria: A common side effect of Glomerulonephritis is the leaking of blood-derived protein into the urine. Urine that is frothy or foamy may indicate an excess of protein in the urine.
  • Edema: A typical symptom of Glomerulonephritis is swelling, especially around the eyes, face, hands, feet, and ankles. Fluid retention brought on by compromised renal function results in edema. 
  • Hypertension: A common side effect of Glomerulonephritis is high blood pressure. Blood pressure is largely controlled by the kidneys, and when they are harmed, blood pressure may rise.
  • Decreased Urine Production: When kidney function is seriously compromised, as is the case in some Glomerulonephritis instances, urine production may drop. This may be accompanied by breathlessness and edema, which are signs of fluid excess.
  • Fatigue and Weakness: Decreased kidney function can result in the blood's accumulation of waste materials and toxins, which can contribute to weariness and weakness. 

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Similarities between Pyelonephritis and Glomerulonephritis

  • Kidney Inflammation: The kidney tissue is inflamed in both Glomerulonephritis and Pyelonephritis. Whereas the inflammation in Glomerulonephritis mostly affects the glomeruli, the tiny filtering units of the kidneys, in Pyelonephritis the inflammation is usually limited to the renal pelvis and kidney parenchyma (the functional tissue of the kidney).
  • Symptoms: Similar symptoms, including fever, flank pain, and changes in urination patterns, can be present in both illnesses. Although the underlying processes of Pyelonephritis and Glomerulonephritis differ, both conditions can result in hematuria (blood in the urine) and proteinuria (excess protein in the urine).
  • Risk of Consequences: If the inflammation doesn't go away or isn't treated, Pyelonephritis and Glomerulonephritis can also result in consequences. Chronic renal disease, kidney scarring, hypertension (high blood pressure), and in extreme situations, kidney failure are possible complications of both illnesses.
  • Inflammatory Response: The immune system's reaction to an underlying trigger is what causes inflammation in both Pyelonephritis and Glomerulonephritis. The cause of Glomerulonephritis might be an autoimmune reaction, an infection, or other causes; in Pyelonephritis, the trigger is typically a bacterial infection.

In conclusion, although kidney inflammation is a common feature of both Pyelonephritis and Glomerulonephritis, their causes, processes, symptoms, methods of diagnosis, and courses of treatment differ. While Glomerulonephritis is caused by immune-mediated inflammation of the glomeruli, Pyelonephritis is usually the result of a bacterial infection of the kidneys.

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What is Pyelonephritis?

A bacterial infection of the kidney is called Pyelonephritis. Usually, it is caused by a urinary tract infection (UTI) that travels up through the bladder and into one or both kidneys.

What is Glomerulonephritis?

Inflammation of the glomeruli, the microscopic filters in the kidneys that extract waste from the blood and generate urine, is referred to as Glomerulonephritis. It may manifest abruptly (acutely) or gradually (chronically).

What causes Pyelonephritis?

The main cause of Pyelonephritis is bacterial infection, most frequently caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), which is generally found in the colon but can also spread to the urinary system.

What causes Glomerulonephritis?

Numerous conditions, including infections, autoimmune diseases, genetic disorders, and some drugs, can result in Glomerulonephritis. Streptococcal infections (like strep throat) and autoimmune diseases like lupus are frequent causes.

What are the differences between Pyelonephritis and Glomerulonephritis?

Pyelonephritis is primarily a bacterial infection of the kidney, whereas Glomerulonephritis is inflammation of the kidney's filtering units (glomeruli), which is frequently caused by immune system malfunction or other reasons.

What are the similarities between Pyelonephritis and Glomerulonephritis?

Pyelonephritis and Glomerulonephritis are two kinds of kidney inflammation. Both of these may cause symptoms like fever, flank pain, and changes in urine.