Hydronephrosis. Get Relief & Treat Your Swelling Kidney Effectively

Updated: 9/25/23

Do you suffer from an enlarged or swollen kidney? Are your struggling to cope with pain and difficulty in urinating? You might be dealing with a serious condition known as Hydronephrosis. While it can be an uncomfortable and, sometimes, terrifying experience, the good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce symptoms, gain relief from distressful symptoms and ultimately help heal your affected kidney effectively. This blog post will walk you through ways to identify the signs of Hydronephrosis so that you can recognize when something is amiss as well as strategies for treatment to get back on track towards wellness. Read on to learn more about reducing stress often associated with this condition!

What is Hydronephrosis?

Hydronephrosis might sound like a complicated term, but it’s actually a relatively common condition. It occurs when urine builds up in the kidneys, causing swelling and pressure. Up to 1 in 100 babies and 1 in 10 adults experience hydronephrosis at some point in their lives. While it can be serious if left untreated, the good news is that it’s also treatable.

Hydronephrosis is a health condition that deals with the swelling of a kidney due to urine build-up. This usually occurs when urine is unable to empty from the kidney to the bladder. The reason for this could be some sort of a blockage. This condition can affect either one or both kidneys.

Doctors often categorize hydronephrosis based on whether it’s acute or chronic. Acute hydronephrosis happens suddenly and is usually caused by a blocked urine outlet, such as a kidney stone or a blood clot. Acute hydronephrosis can also be a sign of a urinary tract infection or an enlarged prostate. On the other hand, chronic hydronephrosis develops more slowly over time and is usually caused by a more long-standing problem, such as a tumor that’s blocking or compressing the ureter, the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder.

Hydronephrosis does not always show symptoms. Pain is among the most common symptoms with changes in urination frequency or color. Since the obstruction of the pathway places pressure on the kidneys, this could potentially damage the organ. The obstruction could either be inside or outside the urinary tract. These blockages can further lead to an enlarged prostate or occurrence of kidney stones.

Hydronephrosis Symptoms

Not everyone experiences the symptoms of hydronephrosis. However, most people will experience one or more of the following if they have a blockage to the kidney.

Flank Pain

Flank pain refers to pain on the side of the torso, slightly below the ribs. The pain can also spread to the lower back in some cases. Flank pain is a symptom of many afflictions (pancreatitis, for example), so hydronephrosis would generally only be suspected if other symptoms coincide. Besides this, there could be pain in the abdomen, back or on the side of the body.

Changes in Urination

Those suffering from hydronephrosis may urinate less often than someone with a healthy urinary tract. Sometimes, blood may be present in the urine.

At times, patients have also complained about discomfort or pain while urinating. There could also be a feeling of not being able to empty your bladder, despite frequently urinating completely. The color and texture of the urine might also change and result in cloudy urine.

Nausea and Fever

Fever, nausea, vomiting and chills are common symptoms of hydronephrosis, regardless of whether the sufferer is a child or an adult. The nausea can be mild or severe, and vomiting may be frequent. If you feel nauseous or sick after eating and have frequent vomiting, see your doctor immediately, as these can be signs of severe hydronephrosis or kidney malfunction.

Lack of Appetite

Hydronephrosis could cause significant weight loss caused in part by a loss of appetite. Nausea can also contribute to a loss of appetite. This symptom is more common in infants and children than in adults. The lack of appetite can lead to mood swings, irritability and a decrease in energy level.

Urinary Tract Infection

Hydronephrosis can make you more susceptible to urinary tract infections (UTIs) because stagnant urine can give bacteria ample opportunity to multiply and thrive. If you notice a burning sensation while urinating, cloudy or strong-smelling urine, or a frequent urge to urinate, you may have a urinary tract infection. If left unchecked, UTIs can lead to more severe kidney problems, so it’s crucial to get them treated promptly.

Blood in Urine

One of the more severe symptoms of hydronephrosis is blood in the urine. When the kidneys are inflamed, blood vessels can burst, leading to bleeding. If you notice blood in your urine, it is essential to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Is Hydronephrosis a Serious Problem?

Hydronephrosis is a serious problem that requires prompt medical attention, especially if symptoms present themselves. Ignoring the condition can lead to severe damage to the kidneys, and in some cases, complete kidney failure. Therefore, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of hydronephrosis, consult with your healthcare provider immediately. Early detection and treatment can significantly reduce the risk of long-term complications and improve the quality of life of those with the condition.

Symptoms of Hydronephrosis

Causes of Hydronephrosis

Hydronephrosis typically develops when urine collects or gets left inside the kidney or the ureter (the duct by which urine passes from the kidney to the bladder) instead of passing clearly via the urinary tract. There are many things that could cause a blockage. Most commonly, however, the reason behind this is underlying, existing medical conditions.

Partial Blockage in the Urinary Tract

Urinary tract obstructions usually form in the place where the ureter and kidney meet — ureteropelvic junction. It may also be seen at the ureterovesical junction — the meeting point between the bladder and the ureter. Besides the urinary tract, blockages or obstructions anywhere in the kidney, the tube or the bladder that could stop the urine from flowing out will place pressure on the kidneys, leading to hydronephrosis.

Vesicoureteral Reflux

Vesicoureteral reflux is a condition in which urine flows in the wrong direction, from the bladder back up into the ureters, causing kidney swelling. This condition can particularly affect children and is usually diagnosed in early childhood. If left untreated, it can lead to kidney damage or even kidney failure.


Pregnant women may also develop hydronephrosis due to an enlarged uterus that presses on their urinary system and causes a blockage. This pressure can lead to swelling of the kidneys, causing complications during pregnancy.

Urinary tract infection (UTI)

Another common cause of hydronephrosis is a urinary tract infection that affects the ureters or the kidneys. UTIs can cause inflammation and swelling, which can block the ureters or the renal pelvis, leading to urinary retention and hydronephrosis. Symptoms of UTIs include pain and discomfort when passing urine, frequent urination, and a strong-smelling urine. Treatment involves antibiotics, and in some cases, surgery may be necessary.

Kidney Stones

One of the most common causes of hydronephrosis is the presence of kidney stones. Kidney stones can cause a blockage in the urinary tract, which prevents urine from flowing out of the body. When urine becomes backed up in the kidneys, it can cause pressure to build up in the area, leading to swelling and discomfort. In some cases, the stones can be passed naturally, but in some severe cases, surgery may be required to remove them.


There are a few kinds of cancer that are known to affect the urinary system. This includes prostate, bladder, kidney, cervical and ovarian cancers. A tumor pushing against any part of the tube or organ in the area could potentially affect and block the flow of urine from the kidneys.

Prostate Drainage

In certain scenarios, the patient might need to undergo a digital rectal exam where the doctor will try to drain the fluid in the renal pelvis.

Congenital defects

Congenital abnormalities in the urinary tract can also cause hydronephrosis. These defects can prevent the urine from draining properly, leading to swelling in the kidney. Some congenital defects that can lead to hydronephrosis include ureteropelvic junction obstruction, multicystic dysplastic kidney, and vesicoureteral reflux. Symptoms may include abdominal or back pain, frequent urination, and fever. Treatment may involve surgery or medication, depending on the cause and severity of the condition.


Some medications can also cause hydronephrosis. Certain medications that you take to help manage other health conditions can cause kidney swelling when taken regularly or in high doses. Therefore, it is important to discuss your medications with your healthcare provider to avoid complications of kidney swelling.



One of the most common methods for diagnosing hydronephrosis is through ultrasound. It is a non-invasive procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the kidneys and urinary tract. Ultrasound is particularly useful for detecting hydronephrosis in pregnant women or infants since it does not involve any radiation. Ultrasound can detect the cause of hydronephrosis, such as an obstruction or a stone.

Computed Tomography (CT) Scan

A CT scan combines X-ray images with computer technology to create detailed images of the kidneys and urinary tract. A CT scan can accurately depict the extent of hydronephrosis and identify the underlying cause of it. CT scans uses in emergencies, where a rapid diagnosis requires a gentle touch.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnet to create a detailed image of the kidneys and urinary tract. This technique is particularly useful in identifying the cause of hydronephrosis, such as a tumor or a blood clot. MRI does not expose the patient to radiation, and it is what they use with pregnant women.

Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG)

VCUG is a procedure that involves injecting a contrast dye into the bladder and having the patient urinate while X-ray images are taken. This procedure detects any anomalies in the urinary tract that may be causing hydronephrosis. VCUG is often used in children to detect vesicoureteral reflux, which is the backward flow of urine from the bladder to the kidneys.

Blood Tests

Hydronephrosis causes an increase in creatinine, a waste product that filters by the kidneys, in the blood. Blood tests can provide information about the kidney function, including creatinine levels. These tests may help diagnose the severity of hydronephrosis and monitor its progression.

Hydronephrosis Treatment

The treatment for hydronephrosis administers after diagnosing and understanding the cause. While surgery might be necessary in certain cases, doctors also work with antibiotics to prevent infection and deal with pain. Generally speaking, the treatment is of the underlying cause, which in turn treats the hydronephrosis.

Mild to Moderate Hydronephrosis

In mild cases, your physician may choose to wait some time before deciding on a treatment. This is because hydronephrosis resolves on its own without external interference. However, there is a chance that you still might orescribes some antibiotics to reduce the risk of contracting a urinary tract infection.

Severe Hydronephrosis

In more severe cases, when the kidney doesn’t function properly or in situations involving reflux, doctors might decide to perform surgery. In such cases, the stored-up urine needs to drain to ensure the kidney remains healthy. This can be done by using a nephrostomy tube.

Treatment During Pregnancy

When this condition creates itself pregnancy, there is no specific treatment necessary, unless complications arise. Generally, hydronephrosis gets resolved once the pregnancy period ends.

Hydronephrosis Treatment in Infants

In the case that hydronephrosis receives a diagnosis before birth and the condition is not severe, it is to get better on its own. However, the baby might need to take some tests in the first few weeks to ensure there are no other issues. They may also be given some antibiotics since they are at more risk of contracting a UTI. Infants with severe hydronephrosis would require surgery called pyeloplasty.

Lifestyle changes is a hydronephrosis treatment for infants. For example, the doctor may recommend changes to the baby’s diet or fluid intake to help improve urine flow and prevent the accumulation of urine in the kidneys. The doctor may also recommend regular exercise or physical therapy to help improve the baby’s overall health.

Surgery for Hydronephrosis

To fix the reflux or clear the reflux, surgery might be the only option at times. This could either be a minimally invasive procedure or not, depending on the situation. The surgical procedure depends on the cause of the condition and the extent of the damage caused. Some surgeries performed include kidney stone removal, ureter stent placement or removal, and, in some cases, more invasive procedures like nephrectomy.

Treating Residual Pain

Passing kidney stones can be an unpleasant and painful experience. However, in most cases, these stones don’t cause any damage. To deal with the pain, you will be prescribed some pain medication and instructions to drink lots of water.

Hydronephrosis in Pregnancy

A prenatal ultrasound is usually enough to understand if the fetus has dilated kidneys or enlarged kidneys. Some women experience kidney pain during pregnancy. This could be due to kidney stones. If this condition is left untreated, the kidney stones may obstruct the ureters, which will make them narrower, placing additional stress on the kidneys.

The hydronephrosis could also be due to the issues that arise congenitally in a fetus or might be the physiologic response to pregnancy. Treating hydronephrosis in babies is according to the severity and the cause behind it. Renal agenesis is the term for babies born with only one kidney.

What Happens if Hydronephrosis is not Treated?

Urinary Tract Infections

One of the most common complications of untreated hydronephrosis is urinary tract infections (UTIs). Urine buildup in the kidney can lead to bacterial growth, making it easier for bacteria to travel to the bladder and urethra. If left untreated, these infections can spread to the kidneys and cause more serious health problems.

Kidney Stones

Another potential consequence of untreated hydronephrosis is the formation of kidney stones. The buildup of urine in the kidney can cause minerals to clump together, leading to the formation of stones. These stones can cause painful symptoms and may require surgery to remove.

Chronic Kidney Disease

If left untreated for a long period of time, hydronephrosis can lead to chronic kidney disease (CKD). CKD is a serious health condition that occurs when the kidneys are unable to filter waste products from the blood effectively. This condition can cause a range of symptoms and can lead to kidney failure if left untreated.

Acid-Base Imbalance

Hydronephrosis can also lead to a buildup of acids in the blood, which can cause an acid-base imbalance. This condition can lead to a range of symptoms, including fatigue, confusion, and difficulty breathing. If left untreated, an acid-base imbalance can lead to more serious health problems, such as coma or death.


In rare cases, untreated hydronephrosis can lead to death. This is especially true for people with weakened immune systems, underlying health conditions, or who have had previous kidney problems. It’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you suspect you may have hydronephrosis.

Supplements for Hydronephrosis

Alpha Lipoic Acid

As this supplement affects blood sugar, it is best that you speak with your doctor before adding it to your diet.

ALA is an antioxidant, and has benefits like lowering blood sugar and reducing inflammation. Take one dose of alpha lipoic acid 600 mg twice a day.


Moringa is rich in antioxidants and potentially offers a reduction in inflammation. Take one dose of moringa extract powder 1,000 mg twice a day after discussion with your doctor.

(NAC) N-Acetyl Cysteine

NAC is an antioxidant and can prevent oxidative damage. As a supplement, take one dose of N-acetyl L-cysteine 600 mg, thrice a day.

Supplements for Kidney Health

There are many supplements that can help the overall health of the body and support normal function of the kidneys. Note that excessive levels of any supplement can put more strain on the kidneys. Discuss any supplementation routine with a medical professional.

Cranberry Supplements

Cranberries are an excellent source of antioxidants and have been used for centuries to prevent and treat urinary tract infections (UTIs). Because hydronephrosis can increase your risk for UTIs, taking cranberry supplements can help support urinary tract health and reduce inflammation and infection in the kidneys. Research shows that cranberry supplements can help manage symptoms of hydronephrosis by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the kidneys.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C can help the body to function healthily, support the immune system and is generally safe to consume. However, take care with your dose as too much may damage the kidneys. Check with your doctor before adding this to your diet. Take one dose of vitamin C 1,000 mg once a day.

Vitamin B

B complex vitamins may have a protective effect on the kidneys. Vitamin B6 is an essential vitamin that can help prevent kidney stones and improve overall kidney function. It increases urine flow and prevent the buildup of minerals in the kidneys. Vitamin B6 can be taken as a supplement or found in foods such as chicken, turkey, and bananas.


L-carnitine can help support a healthy liver and may actually contribute to protecting against liver disease. So while it may not directly help treat hydronephrosis, it can help the kidneys in other ways. Take one dose of L-Carnitine 500 mg four times a day.

Dandelion Root

Dandelion root is a potent diuretic that can help improve kidney function. It can also help alleviate symptoms that come with hydronephrosis, such as swelling and lower back pain. Dandelion root can be taken in various forms, including capsules, teas, and tinctures.


Magnesium is essential for kidney health, as it helps to increase urine flow and prevents the formation of kidney stones. It can also help to relax the muscles in the urinary system, which can help with pain associated with hydronephrosis. Magnesium can be found in foods such as pumpkin seeds, almonds, and spinach or as a supplement.

Other Remedies

Drink Water

Other remedies for hydronephrosis include having lots of water since it can dilute the urine and drain out the bacteria. If the condition impacts your infant, ensure they drink lots of fluids, such as juice and water. It is not advisable to consume anything containing caffeine or citrus.

Don’t Hold Urine In

It is best that you urinate every couple of hours and not try to hold it in as it could lead to more pain and discomfort.

Exercise and Eat Healthy

Fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts, coconut and legumes can help you stay active and healthy. Exercising without putting too much of a strain on yourself can also help you deal with hydronephrosis. Consume cruciferous veggies, melon, green vegetables, bananas, avocados and cocoa.

The Bottom Line

Hydronephrosis symptoms can be subtle or severe, and it’s crucial to keep an eye out for any symptoms that may indicate kidney problems. Whether you’re experiencing flank or abdominal pain, swelling, nausea, or fatigue, if the symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical advice immediately. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment can prevent kidney damage and preserve your kidney health. Always prioritize your physical health and seek preventive healthcare to catch any potential kidney issues early on.

Additionally, Hydronephrosis can be uncomfortable and painful, but there are treatments available that can help you manage the condition and maintain your kidney health. Medications, surgeries, lifestyle changes, alternative therapies, and regular check-ups are all important to ensure that you’re taking care of your kidneys. If you’re experiencing any symptoms of hydronephrosis, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately to avoid complications. Remember, prevention is always better than cure, so taking care of your kidneys should be a top priority for good health.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease

Author: BulkSupplements Staff