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7 Bad Habits that Can Give You a Kidney Infection

A kidney infection is treatable, but why risk the complications? Besides, the condition is so easy to avoid. Just stop these seven bad habits.

A woman sitting on her bed holding her lower back in pain.

A kidney infection can creep up on you, quite literally. Small, everyday habits that you usually underestimate, or overlook might have a long-lasting impact on your overall health. Though it’s rare, a kidney infection may lead to severe conditions such as high blood pressure, sepsis and chronic kidney diseases.

Not every case of kidney infection will end up being severe, but why risk it? It only takes simple lifestyle changes to help you avoid the infection altogether.

This article will list all the negative habits that may cause a kidney infection, so you know what to prevent and improve. Read more below! 

Kidney Infections: The Origin 

A kidney infection is also known by its medical name, pyelonephritis. It is an inflammation of the kidneys caused by bacteria, the most common being E. coli. A type of urinary tract infection (UTI), the condition usually starts from the bladder before spreading upwards to one or both kidneys.

Symptoms of a kidney infection include: 

  1. Fever
  2. General pain in the back or sides
  3. Nausea
  4. Vomiting
  5. A burning sensation while urinating
  6. A sudden urge to urinate with increased frequency
  7. Smelly, cloudy or bloody urine 

People who are more at risk of kidney infection are: 

  1. Women. Since females have a shorter urethra, it is easier for bacteria to reach the kidneys.
  2. Pregnant women. Theories suggest that the hormonal changes and shifts in the position of the urinary tract make pregnant women more prone to kidney infection.
  3. Men with enlarged prostates
  4. People with kidney problems such as kidney stones
  5. Diabetes patients or anyone with a weakened immune system
  6. People suffering from UTI
  7. People having trouble with their bladder or urinary tract (urinary retention, a narrowed urethra, etc.) 
A partial view of a pregnant woman holding her bladder.
Pregnant women are more prone to a kidney infection.

Habits that Can Cause a Kidney Infection 

Here are several habits to keep your kidneys free from infection. 

Smoking or being a second-hand smoker 

Infamous for its health dangers, smoking is a risk factor for kidney fibrosis. Furthermore, since cigarette smoke contains toxic chemicals, second-hand smokers can be equally susceptible to kidney tissue injury. 

Consuming substances that damage the kidneys 

Too much salt can increase blood pressure, triggering narrowed and damaged vessels in the body, including the kidneys. You shouldn’t consume more than 2.3 milligrams of sodium daily. Lessen your salt intake through these methods: 

  1. Buying fresh ingredients and cooking them from scratch. Prepared or packaged foods contain added salt.
  2. Some types of bread have too many sodium and phosphorus additives. Check for sodium levels on bread and other food package labels.
  3. Using spices, herbs and sodium-free seasonings.

Protein is good for you, but an excessive amount of it can overwhelm the kidneys. When your body uses protein, it produces waste that your kidneys will remove. Therefore, more protein means more work for the kidneys. 

To protect your kidneys, you can try probiotics and herbal supplements like Kidney Tonic Herbal soup that can tonify the organs. 

Not drinking sufficient water

Waste and toxins, including the bacteria responsible for a kidney infection, leave your body when you urinate. To maintain a healthy amount of urine, it is important to drink plenty of water.

A woman preparing foods in the kitchen with fresh ingredients on the island.
Cooking food at home rather than purchasing pre-packaged foods will lessen salt intake and can prevent a kidney infection.

Holding in urine for too long 

For the same reason as the above, you should go to the bathroom when you feel like urinating. Don’t hold it in for too long. 

Having bad genital hygiene 

After urinating and defecating, wipe your bottom carefully from front to back. This is vital to stop E. coli bacteria, which normally live in the bowels, from transferring to your urethra. 

What’s more, the bacteria can move to your genitals during sexual intercourse. Try going to the bathroom before and after sex, and ensure you clean up well. 

Excessive exercising and alcohol  

Strenuous exercise and heavy drinking have been linked to a condition called rhabdomyolysis. Involving the rapid dissolution of damaged or injured skeletal muscle, this can cause complications like acute kidney injury. 

Drinking tea after alcohol

Many people assume that that drinking tea after alcohol is a good idea for sobering up quickly. However, according to TCM, theophylline in tea can affect the Kidneys if alcohol hasn’t been processed. Alcohol’s diuretic effect causes it to be released via the Kidneys instead of being absorbed by the body. This stimulates the Kidneys with large amounts of ethanol and could cause damage and improper function.

Using painkillers irresponsibly 

Apart from antibiotics, painkillers may help with a kidney infection. However, long-term use or high dosage of certain painkillers can ruin your kidneys, especially when you take them when you are dehydrated or if you have low blood pressure. Take note of this when consuming painkillers. 

A kidney infection can be quickly treated with antibiotics, but it’s even easier to be prevented through lifestyle changes. Nurture your kidneys by keeping things in moderation, quitting smoking and drinking adequate amounts of water. And remember to upkeep your personal hygiene.

This is an adaptation of an article, “Bad Habits Ruin a Man’s Kidney”, which first appeared on the Eu Yan Sang website


  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2021. Acute Pyelonephritis  [Accessed 18 April 2022] 
  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 2017. Definition & Facts of Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis)  [Accessed 18 April 2022] 
  3. National Health Service. 2007. Kidney Infection  [Accessed 18 April 2022] 
  4. Oxford Academic. 2017. Smoking and chronic kidney disease: seeing the signs through the smoke?  [Accessed 18 April 2022] 
  5. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 2019. Eating Right for Chronic Kidney Disease  [Accessed 18 April 2022] 
  6. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 2019. High Blood Pressure & Kidney Disease  [Accessed 18 April 2022] 
  7. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2015. Rhabdomyolysis: Pathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Treatment  [Accessed 18 April 2022] 
  8. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 2018. Keeping Kidneys Safe: Smart Choices about Medicines  [Accessed 18 April 2022] 

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