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Kidney Infection (cont.)

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Are there foods I should avoid if I have a kidney infection?

There is no scientific data to suggest that avoiding any type of food while suffering from a kidney infection is harmful or beneficial. However, it is important to note that severe nausea and vomiting as well as poor appetite can occur with kidney infection. Therefore, it may be difficult to maintain adequate food and liquid requirements for patients with kidney infection, as this may lead to dehydration and worsening weakness. The treating physician may prescribe medications to treat these symptoms.

Some natural remedies for kidney and urinary tract infection, cranberry and cranberry juice, may have a role in reducing the risk of future kidney infections. This approach seems to be more useful as a preventative measure than actual treatment.

Can kidney infection be prevented?

Hygiene: The main approach to prevention of kidney infection is proper hygiene. Because the majority of infections tend to happen due to the presence of bacteria entering the urinary tract from the urethra, proper personal hygiene plays a theoretical importance in preventing urinary infections. For example, in women, wiping the genital area from front to back after going to the bathroom may significantly prevent bacteria around the anus or vagina to gain access to the urethra. Hygienic use of bath tubs and douching may also have a preventive role, but is not universally supported by clinical experts.

Sex: Because sexual intercourse is another risk factor for kidney infection, it is advised to empty the bladder (urinate) after sexual activity to drain bacteria that may have entered the bladder. This practice, however, is not overwhelmingly proven by available clinical data and not recommended by some experts.

Antibiotics: Preventive antibiotic therapy can sometimes be helpful in women who have recurrent UTIs (more than 3 to 4 times per year). This could be guided by presence of symptoms suggestive of an infection or after sexual intercourse if infections are temporally associated with coitus (intercourse). Preventive (prophylactic) antimicrobials are also recommended for patients undergoing invasive urologic procedures when bacteria are detected in screening urine culture.

Hormonal therapy: Daily application of topical intravaginal (inside the vagina) estriol cream may reduce episodes of symptomatic UTI and kidney infection in postmenopausal women. On the contrary, oral estrogen did not significantly reduce episodes of UTI in these women.

Foods/supplements: Cranberry and cranberry juice or other cranberry products may have benefit in preventing urinary infections as demonstrated in some, but not all, research studies.

Catheters: Other important measures may apply to special situations. For example, in individuals for indwelling bladder catheters, it is important that the catheter is changed routinely under the guidance of a physician. The area around the catheter, especially where it enters the urethra, should be monitored and cleaned routinely.

Kidney stones: In patients with kidney infection who also have kidney stones, the stone may serve as a potential focus of infection that can spread to the rest of the urinary system. Therefore, these patients may be referred to a specialist (urologist) for evaluation and possible removal of the stone(s) to prevent future urinary infections.

Medically reviewed by Michael Wolff, MD; American Board of Urology


Gupta, Kalpana, et al. "Urinary Tract Infection." Annals of Internal Medicine 156.5 (2012): ITC3-1.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/11/2014

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