A kidney infection, also known as pyelonephritis, is usually caused by a bacterial infection that spreads up from the urinary tract to the bladder through the urethra and, finally, into the kidneys. It can affect one or both kidneys.
Women, especially pregnant women, have a high risk of kidney infection compared to men. Other factors that increase your risk of developing a kidney infection include obstruction in the urinary tract, weakened immune system due to diabetes, HIV or side effects of certain treatments, prolonged use of a urinary catheter and suffering from kidney stones or a condition that blocks or changes the flow of urine in the kidneys.
Some of the common symptoms of a kidney infection are pain in the side or lower back where the kidneys are located, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, pain or burning sensation during urination, a need to use the bathroom frequently, change in urine color and pain above the pubic bone.
If not treated in time, kidney infection can lead to serious complications and permanently damage your kidneys. Often, antibiotics are recommended for treating the infection. You can also use some home remedies to reduce symptoms and promote healing.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for a kidney infection.
1. Increase Fluid Intake
Increasing your fluid intake when suffering from a kidney infection can help reduce symptoms and promote quick recovery. It will help flush out bacteria, waste and toxic products from your kidneys, keeping them clean and healthy.
- Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water daily.
- You can also drink 1 to 2 glasses of tender coconut water or lemon water daily.
- Also, drink fruit and vegetable juices so that your body gets all the necessary vitamins and minerals it requires to fight off the infection.
Note: Avoid coffee and alcoholic beverages until your infection has cleared.
2. Hot Water Compress
Pain in the lower abdomen, back and hips is very common when suffering from a kidney infection. You can apply hot compresses to reduce pain, relax the muscles of your abdomen and relieve pressure from your bladder. It will also help reduce inflammation.
- Prepare a hot water bottle or warm a heating pad on low setting.
- Place it on the lower abdominal area, back and hips for a few minutes.
- Repeat as needed.
3. Cranberry Juice
Cranberry juice is good for kidney health. According to a 2009 study done by University of Minnesota researchers, cranberry juice is helpful in treating urinary tract infections and can even prevent recurrence in young to middle-aged women. This in turn helps prevent kidney infections.
Cranberry juice makes the urine more acidic. This prevents bacteria from thriving on the wall of the bladder and thus lessens your risk of infection.
Drink a glass of unsweetened cranberry juice daily. Do not drink this juice in huge amounts or for extended time periods as it can cause side effects. Drinking more than 1 liter of this juice daily for a long time may increase the chances of developing kidney stones because it contains oxalate.
Yogurt that contains antioxidants and probiotics can help treat a kidney infection and even prevent it from recurring. The live bacteria in yogurt inhibit adherence of bacteria to the epithelial cells of the urinary tract. Moreover, yogurt helps boost the immune system.
- Eat 2 to 3 cups of plain yogurt with active live cultures daily.
- You can also add fruits high in fiber like apples, make a tasty smoothie and drink it 1 or 2 times daily.
5. Increase Vitamin C Intake
Vitamin C helps your immune system to fight off infection. It raises the acidic levels in the kidneys, thus making it difficult for bacteria that cause infection to grow.
- Eat 1 to 2 oranges, grapefruits or any other citrus fruit daily.
- Also, eat vitamin C-rich foods like broccoli, kiwi, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, sprouts and tomatoes.
- You can also take vitamin C supplements once a day, preferably with breakfast. Consult a doctor for the correct dosage.
Note: Do not take high dose vitamin C supplements as they are linked to kidney stones, especially in men.
A popular herbal remedy for kidney infections is marshmallow root. It has diuretic properties that encourage increased urine flow, so that toxins and harmful products can be flushed out from the body.
Moreover, marshmallow can easily fight against unfriendly organisms. In addition, its antioxidant properties protect cells along the urinary tract from free radical damage.
- Add 1 tablespoon of dried marshmallow roots and leaves to a cup of hot water.
- Allow it to sit for 8 to 10 minutes, then strain.
- Drink 2 to 4 cups of this solution daily until the infection gets better.
Note: Pregnant or nursing women or people who have diabetes should not take marshmallow.
7. Parsley Juice
Parsley juice works as a cleanser for the kidneys by promoting increased urine flow. This means it can help flush out harmful toxins and microorganisms present in the kidneys.
- Add 1 tablespoon of crushed fresh parsley or dried parsley to a cup of boiling water. Steep for 5 minutes, let the water cool and then strain it. Drink it twice daily for a couple of weeks to combat a kidney infection.
- You can also mix ¼ cup of parsley juice, ½ cup of water and a little honey and lemon juice. Drink it 2 times daily for 1 to 2 weeks.
Note: Parsley may help minimizing symptoms and promote recovery from a kidney infection, but it is advisable to consult your doctor before using this herb as it may interfere with certain medications.
8. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains malic acid, which has antibacterial properties that can help in treating kidney infections. Plus, it can help balance pH levels in body and prevent the infection from spreading.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar and 2 teaspoons of honey in a glass of warm water.
- Drink it 2 times a day for a couple of weeks.
The natural antibiotic properties of garlic will also help fight kidney infection. Moreover, it acts as a diuretic to help the kidneys flush out harmful toxins and microorganisms from the body.
- Eat 3 cloves of raw garlic daily on an empty stomach to resolve a kidney infection.
- Alternatively, you can try garlic capsules or supplements, but only after consulting a doctor.
Apples are high in fiber and anti-inflammatory properties, and thus help treat kidney infections. Apples can keep the urine more acidic in nature to prevent harmful bacteria from growing. Regular consumption of this fruit can even reduce the risk of kidney-related problems.
- Eat an organic apple each day to keep your kidneys functioning properly.
- You can even try applesauce or apple juice.
- Take special care of personal hygiene to prevent bacteria from entering your body.
- After intercourse, urinate and wash properly to prevent bacteria from spreading.
- Empty your bladder whenever you feel the urge to urinate and do not delay.
- Avoid foods high in phosphorous and potassium.
- Quit smoking as it hampers the functions of your kidneys.
- Obesity can increase your risk of developing kidney stones, so lose weight.
- Use virgin and extra-virgin olive oil for cooking to prevent kidney-related problems.
- Avoid bubble baths, which can make kidney infections worse.
- Avoid wearing tight pants or synthetic undergarments to reduce the risk of a kidney infection.