8 Home Remedies for a Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis)

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home remedies for kidney infection

Kidney infections, or Pyelonephritis,  are a category of urinary tract infections (UTI) that often originate in the bladder and then migrate upwards towards either or both of your kidneys (1). UTIs are a widespread public health problem and can be attributed to a variety of bacteria which (2) establish colonies and multiply within the urinary tract. After respiratory and gastro-intestinal infections, UTIs are the most common type of infection that afflicts humans, plaguing 150 million people across the globe each year (3). The symptoms and causes of kidney infections are varied, and you should always seek medical attention as kidney infections can have serious complications. However, our home remedies for kidney infection can and should be used alongside your treatment as they will help you cure the infection.

Symptoms and causes of kidney infection 

Pyelonephritis is caused by pathogenic bacteria infecting the kidney. The bacterial infections can cause inflammation of the inner tissue of the kidney which may produce pus and cause internal scarring. This inflammation is the root cause of the aching pains that are associated with kidney infections

symptoms of kidney infectionDoctors categorize UTIs as either uncomplicated or complicated (4). The severity and symptoms of kidney infection are affected by your age and general health; healthy individuals without any abnormalities in their structural or neurological urinary tract will typically experience uncomplicated UTIs.

The symptoms experienced by individuals with uncomplicated UTIs may include kidney pain (which can be felt either on your side or in your back), fevers, chills, nausea and vomiting, a loss of appetite, fatigue, a burning pain when urinating, the passing of smelly, bloody or cloudy urine, and an increased frequency of urination (5).

The symptoms of complicated UTIs and those associated with catheters, or chronic pyelonephritis when a problem causes urine to flow backward, from the bladder up into the kidneys. Complicated UTIs can lead to major health problems caused by the compromise of your defense system and your urinary tract.  Individuals who are female, older, and diabetic are at a greater risk from complicated UTIs.

Other risk factors known to be a cause of kidney infections include obesity, genetic susceptibility, having experienced a prior UTI, sexual activity, having a narrowed urethra, having an enlarged prostate, having kidney stone(s), and having vaginal infections.

Complicated UTIs can lead to the obstruction of urine, high blood pressure, kidney failure, and permanent kidney scars (renal scarring), which can cause chronic kidney disease.

Medical professionals will assign a number of tests to properly diagnose a UTI. A urine test is often used to determine if your urinary tract has been infected, or if your symptoms have been caused by other conditions such as kidney failure. Ultrasounds and other imaging studies may be used to detect the presence of any blockages or abnormalities in your urinary tract (7). Blood tests may also be administered to ascertain if the infection has spread to your bloodstream.

The treatment prescribed will depend on the severity of your kidney infection, the site of infection and the presence of any predisposing factors. In some cases, antibiotics may be sufficient in helping your body rid itself of the infection, while paracetamol is prescribed for pain relief. On the other hand, severe complications such as a blockage in your urinary tract may require urgent surgery (8).

home remedies for kidney infectionHome Remedies for Kidney infection

Home remedies for kidney infections should not be used as a replacement for professional medical treatment in the event of complicated or uncomplicated UTIs but should always be used as an adjunct.

In general, however, our home remedies for a kidney infection can help your body combat the infection and prevent its recurrence. They can be a potent ally given the increasing rates of antibiotic resistance and the emergence of multidrug-resistant bacterial strains (9).

  1. Stay hydrated

Unless you have a kidney failure, increasing the amount of liquids you consume each day can help your body get rid of the bacteria and flush out the other toxic waste products from your kidneys.

The additional water will also help to dilute your urine and prevent the minerals and salts in it from clustering into kidney stones. Your kidneys can also function more efficiently with an abundant supply of water; they incur more tissue stress when concentrated urine is produced (10). Drinking adequate amounts of water each day is crucial in protecting the health of your kidneys.

Do consult your doctor to determine the optimum amount of water you should drink each day. For most individuals with a kidney infection, this should amount to 8-10 glasses of water each day. Drinking fruit and vegetable juices can also help increase your vitamin intake and boost your immune system. Stay away from alcohol and coffee until you have fully recovered.

  1. Consume probiotics

Physicians define probiotics as “live micro-organisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host” to broaden their traditional association with intestinal health (11).

In light of increased bacterial resistance to antibiotics and higher recurrence rates for UTIs, the medical community is advocating more studies that can conclusively determine the efficacy and limitations of probiotics in treating UTIs.

While probiotics have been recommended as a means to reduce bacterial colonization, alleviate the infection and remedy the problem of antibiotic resistance, additional studies with larger sample sizes with better methodological reporting are needed (13).

At the moment, however, there are a sufficient number of studies to demonstrate the efficacy of L rhamnosus GR-1 and L fermentum RC-14 in restoring vaginal lactobacilli microflora, maintaining a degree of acidic pH, and protecting against infection (14).

Using one or two capsules (which contain a combination of these two strains) vaginally each week throughout a year can thus significantly reduce UTI recurrence rates without any side effects or yeast infections.

  1. Protect the health of your kidneys by maintaining a good diet

The correlation between the prevalence of chronic kidney diseases and an increased predisposition to end-stage renal disease and individuals of low socioeconomic status can be attributed to a malnourished diet (15). These conditions are also associated with diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.

A poor diet that is lacking in fruits and vegetables not only cause a micronutrient and fiber deficit; it also creates an acid-induced digestive system. Furthermore, the processed bread, cereals, grains, meats, sauces and canned items that often substitute for fresh fruit and vegetables often contain sodium-based food additives that can collectively amass to 75% of your total sodium intake, thus contributing to another risk factor for chronic kidney diseases (15).

Opting for a diet that is low in sodium, salt, phosphorus, and potassium will help protect your kidney health in the long run (16). You are also advised to lower your consumption of meat (since this creates additional strain on your kidneys) and to opt for healthier protein options (e.g. bread, lean meat, fish, and plant protein sources) to prevent fat from building up in your kidneys. Opt for apples, peaches, green beans, carrots, cranberry juice, pasta, rice, and corn cereals.

  1. Drink cranberry juice

Research has demonstrated the antibacterial effects of cranberry juice and its constituent organic acids (quinic, malic, shikimic, and citric acid) in combating UTIs caused by Escherichia coli (17).

To benefit from its ability to reduce the bacterial count in your infected bladder and urinary tract, simply drink a glass of unsweetened cranberry juice each day. Do not consume more than one liter of cranberry juice each day, since its ability to function as a urinary acidifier (even when consumed in moderate amounts) can be dangerous if it is drunk in excessive amounts.

5. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is another great home remedy for kidney infections. Vitamin C is an antioxidant which is essential for reducing oxidative stress in the body and insufficient amounts in your diet are linked to a host of ailments. [18]

However, vitamin C has been shown to increase the antioxidant enzymes in your kidneys [19] and whats more, has been shown to reduce kidney scarring in the event of a kidney infection.

It is important to try and reduce kidney scarring as severe scarring is a common cause of UTI reoccurrence. [20].

The great benefit of vitamin C as a home remedy is that it is present in so many healthy foods such as most fruit. As such it should be included in your diet as a preventative measure against the reoccurrence if kidney infections rather than just a treatment.

6. Parsley

Parsley works as a home remedy for kidney infections as it is a diuretic [21]. Diuretics are substances that encourage the production of urine and as such, if they are not consumed alongside increased fluid intake, can lead to dehydration.

However, if plenty of water is consumed, then parsley will help flush out the kidneys and ensure your urine production is high.

If the urine production is high, this not only helps flush out more toxins from your system, but it also means that the concentration of your urine is low, diluted down with water. This helps take the load off your kidneys allowing them to recover quickly.

Parsley also acts as an antiseptic for your urinary tract as it has antifungal and antibiotic properties so it will not only help flush out your system, but will treat the cause of the kidney infection at source. [22]

To use parsley as a home remedy for kidney infections, simply liquidize a large handful of the herb and add to your water consumption to treat the disease.

8. Baking Soda

Baking soda has many uses but as a treatment for kidney infection, this has to be the most unusual.

Studies on baking soda have shown that consumption of the compound can prevent kidney injury in patients that are suffering from long-term kidney disease.

Scientists studied Contrast-induced nephropathy on patients which is an impairment of the renal function or a kidney injury and demonstrated that baking soda did help patients in the sample trial, reducing the incidence of damage in the kidneys. However, they also alluded to the fact that the evidence was weak and further studies may be needed.

 

Do’s

Drink large amounts of water to help flush the bacteria out of your urinary tract if you have a kidney infection

Head to the toilet as soon as you feel the urge to urinate

Wipe yourself from the front to the back (for women) after using the washroom

Consult your doctor to discuss the right amount of liquid to consume

Rest well and maintain a healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables with low potassium and low phosphorus levels

Urinate immediately after sexual activity if you often suffer from UTIs after sex

Vigilantly stick to your treatment plan if you have been diagnosed with diabetes

Place a heating pad on your side, back or stomach

Use lubricated condoms to prevent any irritation of the urethra

Maintain good hygiene

Try to shed the extra pounds if you are overweight or obese

Don’ts

Use deodorant sprays or douches on your genitals

Squat over the toilet instead of sitting on it, since this can stop you from fully voiding your bladder

Use condoms or diaphragms with spermicide, since this can trigger bacterial growth

Consume excessive amounts of salt or alcohol, as this will create additional stress for your kidneys

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