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What causes frequent kidney infections?

My father who is elderly (over 70) has had several kidney infections in the last year that all needed to be treated with antibiotics. What causes frequent kidney infections of this kind? I try to encourage him to use the bathroom often, but he always says he doesn't need to.
Most kidney infections actually begin as bladder infections and then, as the bacteria in the bladder begin to grow and multiple, climb up the tubes called the ureters which connect the kidneys to the bladder. Therefore, in order to understand the source for kidney infections, it is important to understand the source of bladder infections. In an elderly man of 70 years, the most common reason for recurrent bladder infections, assuming your father does not routinely require the use of catheters or similar devices, would be an enlarged prostate, called benign prostatic hypertrophy, which prevents urine from clearing out of the bladder easily. Leftover urine stagnates in the bladder and makes an excellent environment for bacteria to grow. Symptoms of this problem would include difficulty initiating a urine stream, dribbling with urination, or a very weak urine stream. If your father has any of these symptoms, he should talk with his primary care doctor or his urologist to determine what further treatment is indicated. Other conditions that could predispose to a frequent urinary infections or kidney infections would include multiple chronic medical problems, especially diabetes, as well as immune problems or cancer. Your father should discuss his overall health and how that may or may not related to his kidney infections with his internal medicine doctor.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under ZocDoc’s Terms of Service.
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