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Acute Interstitial Nephritis

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Acute Interstitial Nephritis


Acute interstitial nephritis (AIN) happens when the small tubes inside the kidneys become inflamed. This makes it hard for the kidneys to filter waste and extra fluid from the body.

Anatomy of the Kidney.

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AIN may be caused by:

  • Some medicines, such as antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), stomach acid reducers, and diuretics
  • Immune system problems, such as systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Infections, such as strep, Hepatitis C, and HIV

Risk Factors

AIN is more common in older adults. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Taking certain medicines
  • Having an infection


Problems may be:

  • Passing less urine (pee) than usual
  • Lack of hunger
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in the side
  • Joint pain
  • Low fever
  • Rash
  • Blood in the urine (rare)


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Blood and urine tests will be done to check kidney function.

A sample of tissue from the kidney may be taken and tested. This can be done with a biopsy.


The goal of treatment is to ease inflammation and improve kidney function. How this is done will depend on the cause.

Any medicines causing AIN will be stopped or changed. Other medicines may also be given, such as:

  • Antibiotics to treat infection
  • Pain relievers
  • Corticosteroids to ease inflammation

People who are not helped by these methods may need dialysis. This is a machine that takes over the work of the kidneys by filtering blood.


This risk of AIN may be lowered by avoiding medicines that may harm the kidneys. They should only be taken when advised by a doctor.





  • Acute interstitial nephritis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/acute-interstitial-nephritis.
  • Tubulointerstitial nephritis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/tubulointerstitial-diseases/tubulointerstitial-nephritis.


  • Mark S. Itzkowitz, MD, JD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.