If you have a kidney infection, you may feel achy and feverish and have a repeated urge to urinate. The best thing you can do is to see a doctor and receive appropriate treatment, but are there any foods for kidney infection that you can eat?
Causes of Kidney Infection
Kidney infections can happen to just about anyone, young or old, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Symptoms include chills, fever, pain in your back or groin, nausea, vomiting, cloudy, bloody or foul-smelling urine and frequent or painful urination.
Children under the age of two may develop a high fever, while people over 65 may seem confused or get hallucinations or jumbled speech. If you think you have a kidney infection, call your doctor immediately. This condition may lead to sepsis, which can be life-threatening. As far as foods for a kidney infection, the NIDDK states that experts don't think that what you eat can prevent or relieve its symptoms. Being hydrated, however, helps.
Kidney infections are caused by bacteria or viruses. The NIDDK states that scientists believe most kidney infections start as bladder infections that move upstream to one or both of your kidneys. Your bowel normally has bacteria in it. Usually, urination flushes out any bacteria before it can reach your bladder, but sometimes, your body can't fight the infection.
To prevent kidney infection, NIDDK suggests the following:
- Drink lots of liquid, especially water
- Wipe from front to back after using the toilet
- Urinate often and when you get the urge
- Urinate after sex
Children sometimes have an abnormality in the bladder that may cause a kidney infection. It causes urine to flow backward into the ureter. Any kidney or bladder infection should be examined by a doctor.
Foods for Kidney Infection?
Many kidney infections begin as urinary tract infections (UTI), points out the Cleveland Clinic. About 60 percent of women will get this often painful, uncomfortable condition. There's a myth that cranberry juice or cranberry supplements will help treat UTIs, as the Cleveland Clinic notes.
"There is an active ingredient in cranberries that can prevent adherence of bacteria to the bladder wall, particularly E. coli," said urologist Courtenay Moore, MD in an article on the Cleveland Clinic's website." But most of the studies have shown that juice and supplements don't have enough of this active ingredient, A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs), to prevent bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract."
One of the best things you can do if you have a kidney infection, besides taking antibiotics, is drink several glasses of water and other fluids. According to the Mayo Clinic, drinking several glasses of fluids a day may discourage bacteria growth by flushing out your urinary tract.
Fruits and vegetables often have a high water content, the Mayo Clinic states. This helps boost your water intake, which keeps your kidneys healthy even when you're not drinking plain water. Plus you have the added benefit of more nutrition from fruits and veggies.
Kidney Stones and Food
If you have kidney stones, that can lead to a kidney infection, Harvard Health reports. There are some dietary changes you can make if you think food is the cause of your kidney stone. If you get a kidney stone, you should check with your doctor in order to get the best prescription for treatment.
There are some foods to avoid for kidney health if you are prone to kidney stones, however. You should discuss these options with your doctor first. According to the Mayo Clinic, doctors recommend the following dietary changes to prevent future kidney stones:
- Eat fewer oxalate-rich foods if you are prone to calcium oxalate stones. These include rhubarb, beets, okra, spinach, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, nuts, tea, chocolate and soy foods.
- Eat a diet low in salt and animal protein. Consider using a salt substitute and getting your protein from legumes and other plant-based sources.
- Use caution with calcium supplements. The calcium in food, on the other hand, doesn't affect your risk of kidney stones. Again, check with your doctor if you take calcium supplements.
- Ask your doctor to refer you to a dietitian who can develop an eating plan that will reduce your risk of developing kidney stones.
If you are prone to this condition, the Mayo Clinic also reports that you should pass about 2.6 quarts of water through urine each day, so check with your doctor to determine if you're drinking enough fluid. If you live in a hot, dry climate or exercise frequently, you may need more. Your urine should be light and clear.
Weakened Immune System
If you have an weak immune system due to diabetes, HIV, organ transplant or other cause, this could make you susceptible to kidney infections, according to the Mayo Clinic. There are some lifestyle changes you can make to aid your immune system, says Harvard Health, but these should not be taken independently of visiting your doctor, however.
Harvard Health states that there are no scientifically proven methods to boost your immunity through lifestyle changes. That said, a healthy lifestyle is the best thing you can do to naturally keep your immune system functioning well.
To have a healthy lifestyle, Harvard Health recommends the following:
- Don't smoke.
- Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Get enough sleep.
- If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation.
- Avoid infection by washing your hands regularly and cooking meats thoroughly.
- Minimize stress.
You should continue to eat a nutritious diet, no matter whether you are young or old. A healthy immune system needs regular nourishment. Many older people are deficient in certain essential vitamins and trace minerals that must be obtained from food. Older people should discuss their diets with a physician who understands geriatric nutrition, especially if infections become hard to shake.
Antibiotics and Your Health
Now that you know there is no single food good for kidney repair, if you have a kidney infection or UTI, visit your doctor as soon as you can. If the cause is a bacterial infection, you'll probably be prescribed an antibiotic. The Mayo Clinic states that antibiotics are the first line of defense for kidney infections.
Even after you feel better, continue to take your antibiotics until you have finished all the medication. If you don't, the bacteria may linger and the infection may not go away or it may cause more serious complications, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Your doctor may want to repeat a urine culture after you've completed the antibiotics to see if the infection has cleared up. If you still show signs of infection, you'll probably be given another course of antibiotics to take. When you've finished taking your second course of antibiotics, you'll repeat the urine culture.
- Mayo Clinic: "Kidney Infection: Diagnosis and Treatment"
- Mayo Clinic: "Kidney Infection: Symptoms and Causes"
- Harvard Health: "Pyelonephritis: What Is It"
- NIH National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis)"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Can Cranberry Juice Stop Your UTI?"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis): Prevention"
- Harvard Health: "How to Boost Your Immune System"
- Cleveland Clinic: "How Are Kidney Infections (Pyelonephritis) Treated?"
- Mayo Clinic: "Weight Loss: Feel Fuller on Fewer Calories"
- NIH National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis)"