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Pyelonephritis – Causes, Symptoms and Effective Home Remedies

Pyelonephritis is a bacterial infection of the kidneys. This causes renal scaring and it is a life-threatening condition. This is usually caused by a urinary tract infection.

The bacteria are believed to have moved up from the urinary tract. This infection can also spread to the bloodstream from the kidneys. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent a lot of fatalities and even death.

Acute pyelonephritis is sudden and severe. It makes your kidneys swollen and can permanently damage them. Pyelonephritis becomes chronic when it occurs repeatedly.

Although chronic pyelonephritis is rare, it occurs in children or people with obstructions in their urinary system.

Symptoms of Pyelonephritis

Symptoms usually start manifesting within two days of infection. The common symptoms of pyelonephritis are:

  • A body temperature higher than 102F (38.9 C)
  • A pain in the groin, side, back, or abdomen
  • A burning or painful sensation when urinating
  • Cloudy urine
  • The presence of blood or pus in the urine
  • Smelly urine (smells like fish)
  • Frequent and urgent urination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chills or shaking
  • Mental confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Moist skin
  • A general feeling of sickness
  • General body aches

These symptoms can differ in different people and children also. For instance, mental confusion is common in older adults and most times, it is their only symptom.

In the case of chronic pyelonephritis, people might experience mild symptoms only or they might not even have any noticeable symptoms.

Causes of Pyelonephritis


Pyelonephritis usually starts in the lower urinary tract. It is first a urinary tract infection before moving to the kidneys. These bacteria enter the body via the urethra.

They begin to multiply and spread to the bladder. From the bladder, the bacteria would travel to the kidneys through the ureters. Also, severe infection in the bloodstream can also spread to the kidneys.

This will lead to acute pyelonephritis. E. coli is the most common cause of this infection. After E. coli, the less common bacteria responsible for this infection are Enteribacteriacea, enterococci, group B streptococci, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Home Remedies for Pyelonephritis

These remedies treat and protect you from urinary tract infections. These infections are the main cause of kidney infections.

Drink lots of water

This will help you become well hydrated. The water will help flush bacteria from your body and keep your urinary tract clean and free of bacteria. This, in turn, would prevent infection.

Avoid drinks that make your kidneys work harder. These include alcohol and excess coffee. These can delay healing and worsen the condition. They dehydrate you and increase the pressure on your kidneys when working.

Another way to stay hydrated is to increase your intake of water-rich fruits and vegetables. These include cucumbers, watermelon, etc. they also boost your nutrient intake.

Herbal teas

Take herbs rich in antibacterial properties. They would kill the bacteria responsible for this infection. Some herbs with strong antibacterial properties are ginger, basil, corn silk, parsley, Echinacea, olive leaves, sage, peppermint, uva ursi, nettle, mustard, willow bark, celery seed, chamomile, and marshmallow root.

You steep the powder of any of these herbs in hot water and drink daily. You can even make use of the fresh herb if available.

Cranberry juice

Cranberry is a highly effective home remedy for urinary tract infections. It has also been used successfully to treat other UTIs and kidney infections.

Cranberry also protects your kidneys and promotes their health.


This is a powerful herb. It is one of the strongest antibiotics in nature. It also fights inflammation and it’s highly beneficial in treating kidney infections.

It is also a diuretic and helps in flushing toxins and microbes from the body. Take in 3 cloves or more cloves of raw garlic daily.


These are good bacteria that fight and expel bad bacteria from the body. These help the kidneys in processing and removing wastes. This will improve the health and functions of your kidneys.

Probiotics are found in fermented foods.

Salt bath

Salt bath using Epsom salt reduces the pains of pyelonephritis. Pour some Epsom salt in warm water and soak in this solution for a while.

Parsley juice

This herb is packed with pure water and nutrients. It is a natural diuretic which helps in flushing out bacteria and toxins from the body. It increases your frequency of urination.

Blend a few leave of parsley and water until you get a very smooth consistency. You drink this without sieving it. Add cranberries or blueberries to improve the taste and make it more appealing.

Hot compress

This reduces the pains that come with pyelonephritis. Apply the heat compress to the affected area for 20 minutes.

Apple cider vinegar

ACV and apples are rich in nutrients and probiotics. They are also acidic and this helps your kidneys maintain a strong acidity in the urine that prevents the growth of bacteria.

They also fight inflammation. All these help in the treatment of pyelonephritis. You can also consume home-made and unsweetened apple juice.

Vitamin C

This is a powerful antioxidant. It protects your boy from oxidative stress which has been linked to kidney problems. Vitamin C also prevents kidney scarring during severe kidney infections.

It also boosts the activities of enzymes in your kidneys.

Baking soda

This is a powerful home remedy for kidney infection. It is used in treating urinary tract infection and also in removing kidney stones. Mix half teaspoon of baking soda in one glass of warm water.

Drink this solution on an empty stomach daily. Continue until you see an improvement. However, care should be taken not to over-consume baking soda. This can create more problems.

Lemon juice

This is a powerful home remedy for kidney infections and other infections. Lemon contains natural compounds that kill bacteria. When taken internally, lemon juice can kill bacteria in the urinary tract.

Mix lemon juice and clean water in equal amounts. Drink this mixture on an empty stomach daily until you see improvement.

Health Complications Caused by Pyelonephritis

If pyelonephritis is not well treated, it can lead to potentially deadly conditions. It can lead to severe and life-threatening kidney infection and other health problems such as:

Pregnancy complications

Pyelonephritis increases the risk of premature birth. Most women who develop kidney infection during pregnancy give birth to babies with low birth weight.

Septicemia (blood poisoning)

Your kidneys are the sieves of your body. Their functions are to filter wastes from your blood and return the filtered blood to the body.

Pyelonephritis prevents the kidneys from carrying out this operation. This can allow bacteria to spread to your bloodstream.

Scarring of the kidneys

Renal scarring can lead to high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, and even kidney failure.

Risk Factors of Pyelonephritis


Females are more prone to pyelonephritis than males because they have a shorter urethra than men. This makes it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder.

Also, the closeness of the urethra to the vagina and anus makes it easier for bacteria to enter the bladder.

Urinary tract blockage

A blockage can slow the flow of urine. It also reduces your ability to empty your bladder when urinating. Blockages can be a kidney stone, an abnormal substance in the urinary tract, or an enlarged prostate gland in men.

Some medical conditions

Some conditions can make urine flow in the wrong direction. For instance, in vesicoureteral reflux, little amounts of urine flows from your bladder back into your ureters and kidneys.

Individuals with this condition have higher risks of pyelonephritis.

Urinary catheter

Those who use a catheter for a time have a high risk of pyelonephritis. These are tubes used in draining urine from the bladder.

Damaged nerves around the bladder

Having damaged nerves around the bladder or spinal cord increases your risk of pyelonephritis.

This would block the sensation of a bladder infection. This makes it difficult to detect when it is advancing into a kidney infection.

Weak immune system

Medical conditions that affect your immune system can increase your risk of this infection. These include HIV and diabetes. Certain drugs too that weaken immune responses have a similar effect.

How to Prevent Pyelonephritis

There are a number of preventive measures you can take to reduce your risks of this infection. Some of the precautions to take are:

  • Increase your intake of water. This would help to flush bad bacteria from your body when you urinate.
  • Don’t hold urine for a long time. Always ensure that you urinate when you feel the urge to do so.
  • Urinate after intercourse. It is highly advisable that to do this so that bacteria can be cleared from the urethra. This would reduce your risks of infection.
  • Don’t use feminine products in your genital areas.


  1. Acute Pyelonephritis; NCBI
  2. Symptoms & Causes of Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis); NIH
  3. Can You Treat a Kidney Infection at Home?; Healthline
Ebiojo David
I am a Biochemist and Naturopath, I love writing and educating people on health and wellness matters.

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