Home Remedies for Kidney Infections: A Guide

Medically Reviewed By Avi Varma, MD, MPH, AAHIVS, FAAFP
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Antibiotics are the preferred treatment for kidney infections, but some home remedies may also help ease symptoms. Remedies include over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers and drinking lots of liquids. If you’ve received a kidney infection diagnosis, talk with your doctor before trying home remedies.

This article reviews home remedies and prevention methods for kidney infections. 

Sex and gender exist on a spectrum. This article uses the terms “female,” “male,” or both to refer to sex that was assigned at birth. 

Learn more about the difference between sex and gender here.

Overview

A woman drinking water
Yoshiyoshi Hirokawa/Getty Images

A kidney infection, or pyelonephritis, causes inflammation of the kidneys. In the United States, these infections affect about 15–17 per 10,000 females and 3–4 per 10,000 males yearly.

Kidney infections occur more often in females because the bacteria that cause the infection travel up the urethra to the bladder and then to the kidneys. The urethra is shorter in females, giving the bacteria a shorter path to the kidneys.

Females are more susceptible to urinary tract infections (UTIs) and, therefore, kidney infections.

Common symptoms of kidney infections can include:

  • fever 
  • pain in your back, side, or groin
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • burning sensation while passing urine
  • increased urination frequency and urgency
  • dark or cloudy urine
  • blood in your urine 

Learn more about the causes and symptoms of kidney infections.

Antibiotics are the main treatment for a kidney infection. However, some home remedies may help relieve symptoms.

Drink cranberry juice

Although research results have been mixed, a 2016 review of several studies noted that cranberry-derived compounds might prevent bacteria from attaching to the lining of the urinary tract. The paper also stated that these compounds, such as polyphenols, may suppress inflammation.

Another study of females with a recent history of UTIs concluded that cranberry juice reduced the number of clinical UTI episodes.

Increase water consumption

Drinking lots of water causes you to urinate more frequently. Urinating more frequently, in turn, helps flush out any pathogens that may have entered the urethra.

Urine can also dilute bacterial nutrition in the urinary tract, suppressing bacterial growth.

While liquids other than water may also be beneficial, try to avoid alcohol.

Consume herbs and natural supplements

Some supplements are popular for natural UTI treatment and prevention, which may help prevent kidney infections. While research on the effectiveness of these compounds is limited, initial research suggests that these supplements and herbs may target bacteria that cause UTIs and prevents them from inhabiting the walls of your urinary tract.

Herbs and supplements that may help protect against UTI infection include:

Still, the effects of these herbs require more study. Researchers have found that when consumed in large quantities or for long periods, juniper may irritate the kidneys.

Get your doctor’s advice before adding these or other new supplements or herbs to your diet.

Apply curd water or use potassium salt supplements 

Curd water, or the water left over after curdling milk, may positively impact a kidney infection. According to researchers, curd water can ease the urinary burning sensation when applied around the urethra.

Potassium salt supplements may also produce a similar effect. Older research suggests these supplements can alkalize your urine and reduce pain during urination. 

You can take potassium salt by diluting or dissolving it in a half glass of cold water. Check with your doctor before trying these home remedies.

Take pain relievers

Some people may need OTC pain relievers for their kidney infections. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen may provide pain relief.

However, because kidney infections can impair function, these drugs should be used with caution and only at the direction of your doctor. Taking them could potentially worsen kidney function.

It is also important to avoid aspirin and other blood thinners because these may cause easy bleeding.

Take probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms that help maintain digestive and immune health. They work by preserving good bacteria in the body. 

Some sources suggest that probiotics can fight infections and help maintain normal balances of bacteria in the urinary and genital tracts. However, other research did not find a significant benefit.

More conclusive data is needed to confirm the efficacy of probiotics. There may also be side effects, such as stomach upset, diarrhea, and gas.

Speak with your doctor to see whether probiotics may be an option.

Prevention

According to the National Health Service, keeping the bladder and urethra void of harmful bacteria is key to preventing a kidney infection. You can achieve this by:

  • drinking lots of fluids, especially plain water
  • using the bathroom as soon as the urge arises
  • urinating immediately after sex to flush out any bacteria that may have entered your urethra
  • wiping from front to back
  • practicing good genital hygiene
  • treating any constipation promptly
  • avoiding spermicide-coated condoms if you have a high risk for UTIs

In addition, proper personal hygiene practices can reduce bacterial growth on your body. Reduced bacterial growth can consequently lower your risk of recurrent infections.

Try to bathe regularly and wash your hands frequently.

When to see a doctor

While home remedies can reduce the discomfort of a kidney infection, they are often not enough to cure the condition completely.

It is important to seek clinical treatment if you suspect a kidney infection, especially if you have serious symptoms such as:

  • persistent fever
  • severe pain
  • blood in your urine 

FAQ

Avi Varma, M.D., MPH, AAHIVS, FAAFP, has reviewed the answers to some common questions about kidney infections.

Can you wait for a kidney infection to go away on its own?

If you have a kidney infection, you should seek medical treatment. Without treatment, a kidney infection can cause serious complications like sepsis or acute renal failure.

How long does it take to recover from a kidney infection?

With medical treatment, most people with kidney infections recover in a few weeks.

Summary

Kidney infections can cause inflammation of the kidneys, pain, fever, and nausea.

Doctors typically treat a kidney infection with antibiotics. They may also recommend home remedies, such as drinking lots of water and cranberry juice and maintaining good personal hygiene.

Other remedies include applying curd water, using potassium salt supplements, and taking pain relievers.

The steps to reduce your risk of a kidney infection include practicing good genital hygiene, going to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge, and staying hydrated.

Seek prompt medical care if you have severe or persistent symptoms of a kidney infection.

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Medical Reviewer: Avi Varma, MD, MPH, AAHIVS, FAAFP
Last Review Date: 2022 Nov 17
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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