Kidney infections can be diagnosed by family doctors, OB/GYN doctors, and urologists (doctors who specialize in the urinary system). The diagnosis of kidney infection is based primarily on symptoms, urinalysis, and urine cultures. Blood tests may also be performed. Approximately 20% of patients have bacteria in the bloodstream, a condition called bacteremia. Urine dipsticks that detect signs of infection are often used right in the doctor's office. Urine would be examined with a microscope for the presence of bacteria and leukocytes (white blood cells). Urine culture would identify which microbe is causing the infection and may also be used to determine which antibiotic would be effective.
Other routine diagnostic procedures to look for signs of infection in the kidney may be used. An x ray of the abdomen may be taken. Ultrasound, which uses sound waves to visualize internal organs, may be used to examine the bladder and kidney. Less routinely performed are intravenous urograms, computerized tomography (CT scan), and scintillation scans.
Delays in the diagnosis and treatment of kidney infection can lead to permanent kidney damage. Anyone who suspects kidney infection should seek professional care immediately. Alternative medicine may be used as an adjunct to the appropriate antibiotic treatment.
Dietary changes which may help to control and prevent kidney infection include:
Drinking eight to 12 glasses of water daily helps to wash out bacteria (although this may also dilute antibacterial factors in the urine).
Acidifying the urine by eating few alkaline foods (dairy and soda).
Following a diet rich in grains, vegetables, and acidifying juices, like citrus.
Eliminating high-sugar foods (sweet vegetables, fruits, sugar, and honey).
Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice to acidify the urine and provide the antimicrobial agent hippuric acid. Cranberry capsules can substitute for the juice.
Traditional Chinese medicine treats pyelonephritis with acupuncture, herbals, and patent medicines. The Chinese patent medicine Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan (Anemarrhena, Phellodendron, and Rehmannia Pill) is often used to treat kidney infections and disease and bladder infections. The patient can take eight pills three times daily. Treatment of urinary tract infection often uses one or more of the following herbs in doses of 30 g to 60 g taken once or twice daily (Patients should consult a traditional Chinese medical practioner for the treatment best suited for them.):