How to Prevent a Kidney Infection

February 19,2020 |

Kidney infections are infections that affect either one or both of your kidneys. Most often, they’re a result from an infection in your urinary tract system that spread upwards.2 Some people experience chronic kidney infections while others will never experience one in their life. However, kidney infections are often very painful and can be extremely dangerous. They’re caused by bacteria that gets into the kidneys through the urinary tract—by way of moving up through the urethra.2 When left untreated kidney infections, also known as pyelonephritis, can be life-threatening.2 In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about how to prevent a kidney infection.

Symptoms of a Kidney Infection

Before understanding how to prevent a kidney infection, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the symptoms. Kidney infections usually begin to show symptoms about two days after infection and the range of symptoms experienced varies from person to person. Many of the common symptoms include:2

  • Pain in your abdomen, back, groin, or side—may or may not be localized near your kidneys
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling like you have to urinate often
  • Burning or painful urination
  • Pus or blood in your urine
  • foul-smelling urine
  • Cloudy urine
  • Chills
  • Fever

If you notice any of the above signs of a kidney infection, it’s important that you call your doctor immediately. If you’re suffering from a kidney infection, it means that it’s already spread and the infection could quickly lead to sepsis, which is life-threatening. Even if you just think you might be experiencing a UTI, kidney infections can share the symptoms and getting the proper medical assistance is crucial.

Kidney Infection Risk Factors

Unfortunately, there are a few things that put you at a higher risk for developing kidney infections. If you have frequent UTIs, you’re more at risk—1 out of 30 UTIs lead to a kidney infection.2 Since women experience more UTIs than men, they’re in a higher risk group. If you have a weakened immune system from diabetes, HIV or AIDS, or due to immunosuppressants, you are more at risk for developing a kidney infection. If you use catheters regularly or have problems emptying your bladder, you face a higher risk of kidney infections.2 Finally, people who have spinal cord or nerve damage that affects the bladder, irregular urinary tracts, or frequent urine backup are more at risk. Talk to your urologist today if you have any urological problems to better understand what you can do to prevent a kidney infection.

Best Ways to Prevent a Kidney Infection

Since kidney infections can be painful and very dangerous to your health, the best thing to do is prevent them. You can significantly lower your risk of getting a kidney infection by taking the following precautions.

Address Underlying Problems

The first thing you should do is talk to your doctor about any underlying problems or medical conditions that you may have. If you currently have an enlarged prostate, a narrow urethra, or regularly experience kidney stones, getting the proper treatment will reduce your chances of developing a kidney infection.1 Schedule a consultation with your doctor or urologist to determine the best treatment plan to help you prevent a kidney infection.

Treat Any UTIs

If you notice any signs or symptoms of a urinary tract infection, call your doctor immediately. Addressing the infection early on is the best way to avoid it from turning into a bladder or kidney infection. The symptoms of a UTI are easy to identify and include a burning or painful sensation while urinating, a frequent need to urinate even when you have nothing to expel, and an intense urge to urinate throughout the day. Treatment for a UTI is simple and can be administered after a rapid diagnostic test. Always follow your doctor’s instructions for the proper course of treatment and don’t stop taking your antibiotics until you’ve gone through the prescription. Symptoms may subside, but that doesn’t mean that the infection is completely cleared. If you have any questions, talk to your doctor.

Aside from treating UTIs, the best way to prevent kidney infections is to take the same precautions necessary to prevent UTIs in the first place. Since kidney infections tend to develop after a urinary tract infection, preventing UTIs is the best action you can take.

Drink Water

Staying hydrated helps to flush out your urinary tract so harmful bacteria doesn’t stick around and reproduce. Try to drink at least 6-8 8oz glasses of water per day (more if you exercise rigorously) and avoid hydrating with sugary sports drinks or soda pop.

Don’t Hold It

If you feel like you need to use the bathroom, use the bathroom. When you hold it for long periods of time, the urine sits in your bladder and raises your risk of infection.1 If you’re unable to empty your bladder immediately, try to find the nearest bathroom and make a pitstop. On average, aim to urinate every 3-4 hours, more if you’re well hydrated.1

Wipe Front to Back

Female hygiene is critical in preventing a UTI. The biggest thing you can do to prevent infection is to make sure that you’re wiping from front to back every time you use the bathroom. If you wipe from back to front, you risk exposing your urethra to fecal matter and bacteria.

Use the Bathroom After Sex

There’s a fairly strong link between urinary tract infections and sex, but there are ways you can reduce your likelihood of getting a UTI when you’re sexually active. The best way to do this is to use the bathroom both before and after having sex—even if it’s not intercourse. Increased activity and friction spreads bacteria, so flushing out your urethra is highly recommended.

Practice Good Hygiene

In addition to using the bathroom before and after sex, practice good hygiene. Wash your hands and keep your genital area clean throughout the day. Avoid using harsh products with added fragrance or irritants and stick to mild soap and water for genital hygiene.

Reassess Your Birth Control

Certain birth control methods increase your risk of developing a UTI. If you’re currently using a diaphragm, unlubricated condoms, or spermicides, talk to your doctor about finding an alternative contraceptive method.1 All of the above can increase the spread of bacteria and irritate the urethra.

Remedies to Treat Kidney Infections

If you experience a kidney infection, you need to seek medical treatment to ensure that you don’t develop sepsis and put your life at risk. In addition to medical treatment, there are a few remedies that can help to treat infections and ease your symptoms.

  • Stay Hydrated

    Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to help relieve infection and the discomfort that symptoms cause. Drinking lots of water will help your body flush out bacteria naturally so that you can eliminate infection faster.

  • Drink Cranberry Juice

    Cranberry juice is beneficial to the urinary tract system and has been consumed for years as an at-home remedy to UTIs. Try drinking a few cups of unsweetened, 100% pure cranberry juice to help relieve symptoms. Avoid cranberry juice cocktail or those that are laden with added sugars.

  • Avoid Irritants

    If you experience any symptoms of a kidney infection, or a UTI, you need to lay off the irritants. Alcohol and coffee both disturb the urinary tract and can make symptoms worse. They also hinder the process of healing from infection.3

  • Take an Epsom Bath

Another way to help ease discomfort is to soak in a warm Epsom salt bath. The Epsom salt acts as a detox and can help alleviate pain while you’re waiting for antibiotics to start working.3

Additionally, talk to your doctor about taking a probiotic and increasing your vitamin C levels. If you want to skip the bath, try a heating pad and non-aspirin pain relievers to curb discomfort until your symptoms subside. As always, talk to your doctor about additional treatment plans and always follow strict instructions.


If you think you might be suffering from a kidney infection, or have other symptoms that raise concern, call your doctor immediately. As with other urological problems, kidney infections require a proper diagnosis to ensure that the correct treatment is being administered. If you need any urological supplies or additional educational resources, visit our educational support page or our urology product selection guide. Byram Healthcare is proud to offer full-service urological care and we have all the high-quality urological supplies that you need. If you’re looking for confidential services, our knowledgeable urological customer service team is here to help.