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Kidney Infection: Backention, Risk Factors and Treatment

Overview

The urinary tract is made up of a pair of kidneys, which make urine by filtering the waste products from the blood. Thin tubes known as ureters stem from each kidney and drain the urine into the bladder, which stores the urine until it is excreted out of the body through another tube called a urethra.

Often times, infection-causing bacteria find their way into the urinary tract through the genitals, moving upstream from the urethra to the bladder and traveling up the ureters to infect the kidneys.

At its nascent stages when the infection is restricted to the bladder, the condition is referred to as cystitis. This is a relatively common urinary tract infection and is not associated with any serious damage apart from making urination quite painful and discomforting.

However, if not treated properly, cystitis can progress into a more serious condition as the bacteria multiply and migrate further to infect one or both the kidneys. Although such a kidney infection is relatively easy to cure if caught early, delayed or negligent treatment can cause the bacteria to spread to your bloodstream and cause life-threatening complications. Moreover, the risk of permanent kidney damage also increases.

Some kidney infections can develop without a bladder infection and are due to a problem within the kidney itself. As an example, people with kidney stones or an abnormality of the kidney are more susceptible to kidney infections.

Note: Consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment of this condition. Use home remedies just as an adjunct treatment. Discuss with your doctor before taking any herbal supplements as some herbs and spices can interact with medications.

Types of Kidney Infection

Acute kidney infection refers to a relatively non-threatening form of pyelonephritis wherein the problem resolves completely when adequately treated. However, the condition is said to be chronic if the disease-causing bacteria continue to persist despite the prescribed treatment. As a result, the infection keeps recurring. This kind of sustained damage can severely compromise your kidney function.

Chronic pyelonephritis can even lead to the release of bacteria into the bloodstream, paving the way for subsequent infections in the opposite kidney or elsewhere in the body.

This long-standing condition is usually rooted in certain underlying abnormalities, such as a structural blockage in the urinary tract, large kidney stones that persist, and vesicoureteral reflux, a condition that causes small amounts of urine to flow backward from the bladder into the kidneys or cysts in the kidney.

Although chronic pyelonephritis is comparatively uncommon, most cases are reported in children and people with urinary blockages.

Causes of a Kidney Infection

Symptoms of a Kidney Infection

It takes between a few hours to a day for the symptoms of acute pyelonephritis to manifest. Some of the most commonly reported indicators of a probable kidney infection include:

Children with acute pyelonephritis may also exhibit additional symptoms, such as:

Around one in three people with acute pyelonephritis will also have symptoms of a lower urinary tract infection (cystitis). These can include:

Children with long-standing pyelonephritis can exhibit signs and symptoms of poor growth and failure to thrive.

Risk Factors of a Kidney Infection

Some people run a higher risk of developing kidney infections than others due to the following factors:

Diagnosing a Kidney Infection

Given that the symptoms of a kidney infection can apply to certain other problems in the pelvis and abdomen, your doctor will have to conduct a thorough evaluation to reach a conclusive diagnosis.

To that end, your health care provider may use the following tests:

Your doctor will also look for problems that can cause kidney infection, such as kidney stones and birth defects. Your treatment will be based on a clear diagnosis of the problem.

Treatment for Pyelonephritis

The first line of treatment for pyelonephritis involves a doctor-prescribed course of antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria. The choice of drug will depend upon the bacteria detected on the urine tests.

If the infecting pathogen remains unidentified, your doctor will recommend a broad-spectrum antibiotic that will treat the most commonly seen bacteria in this condition. The severity of your symptoms helps decide the choice of antibiotic and duration of the treatment.

Although your condition will show signs of improvement within a few days of taking the antibiotic, it is imperative that you complete the full course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor to ensure that the infection is completely eradicated.

On occasion, the doctor may change your medication after 2 days, particularly in the event that:

Oral drugs sometimes prove ineffective and insufficient for treating severe kidney infections. People who exhibit particularly severe symptoms, such as considerable nausea and vomiting, persistently high fever, signs of dehydration, and debilitating pain, may need to be hospitalized for a few days.

Treatment in the hospital may include intravenous administration of antibiotics and fluids as well as regular sampling of your blood and urine to track the improvement of the infection. Your stay at the hospital usually depends upon how well you respond to the treatment, and once you are released, the doctor will give you 10 to 14 days’ worth of oral antibiotics to take home.

How Can You Backent a Kidney Infection?

A kidney infection generally results due to the advancement of preexisting bacteria from the lower urinary tract up to the kidneys. Thus, the ideal way to stave off the threat of kidney infections is by not having bacteria in the urethra or bladder. The following preventive steps can help in this regard:

When to See a Doctor

Kidney infections can take a turn for the worst if left untreated and lead to complications that can jeopardize your health to the extent of being fatal. Thus, it is paramount that you consult with your healthcare provider the minute you notice possible signs of pyelonephritis. The onset of certain symptoms particularly warrants the need for prompt medical assistance, which include:

Professional medical help is especially indispensable in the case of children who may have a kidney infection.

What Should You Expect from the Doctor?

The usual line of questioning that a doctor follows to evaluate your condition touches upon the following:

Complications

Negligent or delayed treatment of acute pyelonephritis can give rise to potentially serious complications:

What Does Chronic Pyelonephritis Entail?

As far as chronic pyelonephritis is concerned, the outlook of this condition tends to vary from patient to patient. For the majority of patients, the condition is characterized by occasional bouts of kidney infection without any major discomfort or pain. Others require regular monitoring by a kidney specialist.

In some patients, the infection causes significant damage to the kidneys, resulting in a significant impairment of kidney function leading to kidney failure. In such extreme cases, the patient may require long-term dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Medic to Treat a Kidney Infection

If not treated in time, a kidney infection can lead to serious complications and can permanently damage your kidneys. Often, antibiotics are recommended to treat the infection. You can also use some home remedies to reduce the symptoms and promote healing.

Here are the some home remedies for a kidney infection.

1. Increase Fluid Intake

Increasing your fluid intake when suffering from a kidney infection can help reduce the symptoms and promote quick recovery. It will help flush out bacteria, waste, and toxic products from your kidneys, keeping them clean and healthy.

A study published in the American Journal of Nephrology suggested a potentially protective effect of higher total water intake, particularly plain water, on the kidney. However, evidence from a large, well-designed randomized controlled trial is needed to conclusively establish this claim.

Note: Avoid coffee and alcoholic and fizzy beverages until your infection has cleared. Check with your doctor about fruit juices if you have diabetes.

2. Manage Symptomatic Pain with a Hot 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 the pain, relax the muscles of your abdomen, and relieve the pressure from your bladder.

  1. Prepare a hot water bottle or warm a heating pad on low setting.
  2. Place it on the lower abdominal area, back, and hips for a few minutes.
  3. Repeat as needed.
Note: You can also use cold compress instead of warm compress.

3. Consider Drinking Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice is reported to reduce urinary tract infections. However, there is no strong data to support its use for urinary tract infections.

Cranberry juice contains certain chemicals that may deter the bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract. This may prevent bacteria from thriving on the wall of the bladder and thus lessens your risk of infection.

In one study, researchers found that cranberry juice reduced E. coli colonization of the bladder in an experimental mouse model of urinary tract infection and that the organic acids are active agents. The active treatments reduced bacterial counts in the bladder but did not cure the infection, indicating that cranberry juice is not a definitive treatment but it may promote clearance of the infection, for instance, in combination with antibiotics.

Consider drinking a glass of unsweetened cranberry juice. Do not drink this juice in large 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 oxalates.

Many cranberry juice products contain significant amounts of sugar, so it is important to check if you have diabetes.

4. Yogurt Releases an Army of Good Bacteria

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.

5. Increase Vitamin C Intake

Vitamin C helps your immune system to fight off infection. It acidifies the urine, thus making it difficult for the infection-causing bacteria to grow.

A study published in Advances in Urology showed that administration of antioxidants, namely, vitamins A and E, can prevent the scarring of kidneys due to pyelonephritis, with or without antibiotic administration.

Another study showed that the combined intake of vitamin E and vitamin C exerts a protective role against hydroxyl-L-proline (HLP)-induced oxalate nephropathy.

Note: Do not take high-dose vitamin C supplements as they are linked to kidney stones.

6. Drink Parsley Juice to Detox Your Kidneys

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.

Note: Parsley may help in minimizing the symptoms and promoting recovery from a kidney infection, but it is advisable to consult your doctor before using this herb as it may interfere with certain medications.

7. Garlic Helps Protect Your Kidneys

The natural antibiotic properties of garlic can also help fight kidney infection. Moreover, it acts as a diuretic to help the kidneys flush out harmful toxins and microorganisms from the body.

A study published in Pathogens and Disease showed that oral treatment with garlic significantly lowered renal bacterial counts and protected mouse kidney from tissue destruction caused by P. aeruginosa. Prophylactic treatment with garlic was able to significantly lower renal bacterial counts in test group animals. Renal tissue lesions were of less severity in the garlic-treated group, suggesting attenuation of virulence of P. aeruginosa in the UTI model.

8. Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Improved Renal Function

Apple cider vinegar contains malic acid, which has antibacterial properties that can help in treating kidney infections that are particularly caused by E. coli. Plus, it can help balance the pH levels in the body and prevent the infection from spreading.

  1. Mix 1 tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar and 2 teaspoons of honey in 1 glass of warm water.
  2. Drink this mixture two times a day for a couple of weeks.
Caution: Do not drink undiluted apple cider vinegar on empty stomach.

9. An Apple a Day Keeps Kidney Infection at Bay

Apples are high in fiber and anti-inflammatory properties and thus help treat kidney infections. Apples can prevent harmful bacteria from growing. Regular consumption of this fruit can even reduce the risk of kidney-related problems.

Additional Tips

Resources:

  1. Wu L- W, Chen W-L, Liaw F- Y. Association between fluid intake and kidney function, and survival outcomes analysis: a nationwide population-based study. BMJ Open. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4874113/. Published May 12, 2016.
  2. Sontrop JM, Dixon SN, Garg AX, Buendia-Jimenez I, OrianeDohein S-HSH, Clark WF. Association between Water Intake, Chronic Kidney Disease, and Cardiovascular Disease: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of NHANES Data. American Journal of Nephrology. https://www.karger.com/article/fulltext/350377. Published April 17, 2013.
  3. Pham PC, Khaing K, Sievers TM. 2017 update on pain management in patients with chronic kidney disease. Clinical Kidney Journal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5622905/. Published August 18, 2017.
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  5. Jensen HD, Struve C, Christensen SB. Cranberry Juice and Combinations of Its Organic Acids Are Effective against Experimental Urinary Tract Infection. Frontiers in Microbiology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5378705/. Published April 4, 2017.
  6. Waigankar SS, Patel V. Role of probiotics in urogenital healthcare. Journal of Mid-life Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3156505/. Published 2011.
  7. Gupta V, Nag, D, Garg P. Recurrent urinary tract infections in women: How promising is the use of probiotics? Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology. http://www.ijmm.org/article.asp?issn=0255-0857;year=2017;volume=35;issue=3;spage=347;epage=354;aulast=Gupta. Published October 12, 2017.
  8. Mohseni M- J, Aryan, Z, Paydary K. Combination of Probiotics and Antibiotics in the Backention of Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection in Children. Iranian Journal of Pediatrics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3883373/. Published August 2013.
  9. Emamghorashi, F, Owji SM, Motamedifar M. Evaluation of Effectiveness of Vitamins C and E on Backention of Renal Scar due to Pyelonephritis in Rat. Advances in Urology. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/au/2011/489496/. Published December 12, 2010.
  10. JATURAKAN O, DISSAYABUTRA T, CHAIYABUTR N. Combination of vitamin E and vitamin C alleviates renal function in hyperoxaluric rats via antioxidant activity. The Journal of Veterinary Medical Science. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5447979/. Published April 8, 2017.
  11. Abdullah RM, Sorchee S, Anwar K. Antibacterial activity of parsley and celery aqueous extract on the isolated bacteria from children UTI in Erbil International Journal of Advanced Research. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281278291_Antibacterial_activity_of_parsley_and_celery_aqueous_extract_on_the_isolated_bacteria_from_children_UTI_in_Erbil_city. Published January 2014.
  12. Mansour A, Shelh S, Hariri E. Efficient and Cost-Effective Alternative Treatment for Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections and Interstitial Cystitis in Women: A Two-Case Report. Case Reports in Medicines. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4283390/. Published December 21, 2014.
  13. Harjai K, Kumar R, Singh S. Garlic blocks quorum sensing and attenuates the virulence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. FEMS Immunology & Medical Microbiology. https://academic.oup.com/femspd/article/58/2/161/597038. Published March 1, 2010.
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