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How to keep your kidneys safe

by Outlook Health
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The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, about the size of a fist, situated just below the rib cage on either side of the spine. They are a vital organ that is a part of the urinary system.

Kidneys carry out many important functions in our body, including:

  • They are a round-the-clock working powerhouse that help in the filtration of the blood to produce urine which contains all the waste products, toxins, and even drugs of the body. Daily about 120-150 quarts of blood are purified and 1-2 quarts of urine are produced.
  • They keep the body’s fluid content in balance, ensuring that there is neither overloading of water nor dehydration.
  • They help control blood pressure, ensuring that it is at the right level to allow optimal functioning of different organs of the body.
  • They synthesize active Vitamin D which helps in keeping bones strong.
  • They are involved in the production of the hormone erythropoietin which stimulates red blood cell production in the bone marrow. [2, 3]

Kidney Health Issues:

Kidney illnesses can happen in two ways:

1. Acute Kidney Injury- It refers to the short-lived damage to the kidneys wherein the kidneys are not able to pass a sufficient amount of urine and shows changes in the kidney function tests. It stays for a period of days to a few weeks and is caused by inflammation of the kidneys, dehydration because of excessive diarrhea and vomiting, systemic or kidney infections, enlarged prostate gland, drug-induced secondary to certain antibiotics and pain relievers, and obstruction to the urinary tract because of stones.

2. Chronic Kidney Disease- It refers to long-term kidney damage where there is evidence of abnormal kidney function lasting for over weeks to months (usually for more than 3 months). It is caused by persistent inflammation in kidneys such as systematic lupus erythematosus or glomerulonephritis, recurrent kidney infections, hypertension, and inherited kidney diseases like Alport’s Syndrome and Polycystic Kidney Disease, and is usually secondary to diabetes mellitus. [1, 2]

8 Problems Caused by Kidney Disease:

  • Cardiac disease
  • Heart attack and stroke
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Put life at risk
  • Nerve injury (neuropathy)
  • Renal failure (end-stage kidney disease, or ESRD)
  • Anemia is a reduced number of red blood cells
  • Weak and brittle bones. [4]

How to Safeguard Kidneys Health?

there are many ways to reduce the risk of Kidney damage and keep the kidneys in good health and functioning at their optimal level.

1. Have a Healthy Diet

A nutritious, well-balanced diet is important to keep in check blood sugars and blood pressure. So, fill the plate with a small portion of lean meats, fish, chicken, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains to keep the kidneys healthy. Moreover, cutting down on the intake of salts as an excess of sodium can make the kidneys work harder to restore the balance of electrolytes and fluids. About one teaspoon of salt is permissible in a day and if is taken in excess there can be long-term impairment of kidney function. [3]

2. Be Physically Active

To keep up with the overall well-being, it is important to regularly work out. One can go running, jogging, walking, cycling, and even dancing daily to keep their blood pressure in the normal range and keep the body weight low. It has been reported that obese people are at higher risk of developing a number of health issues that include kidney damage. [1]

3. Keep Body Hydrated

It is very important to daily drink plenty of water as it helps in diluting urine produced by the kidneys and even in clearing excess sodium and waste products from the body. About 32 ounces i.e. 2 liters of water must be taken. However, if one has a record of kidney stones, then it’s recommended to take 2.5 liters of water daily so that there is no aggregation of crystals in the kidneys and even if small stones are present they can be flushed out from the body while passing urine. [1, 3]

4. Control the Blood Pressure

If the blood pressure is consistently shooting above 140/90mm hg, it indicates hypertension. In that case, one is at a higher risk of chronic kidney disease. To keep the blood pressure in control and avoid kidney damage, one must practice lifestyle modifications including relaxation techniques, reduced intake of sodium in their diet, regular exercises, and even consult the healthcare provider regarding the need for medications. [1]

5. Control the Blood Sugar Levels

Diabetes is a potential leading cause of kidney damage. Experts recommend that if one is diabetic, one must daily monitor their blood sugars at different times of the day. If one keeps their blood sugars in the normal range, the risk of kidney damage is significantly reduced and the kidney functioning gets stabilized. To control blood sugars, diabetics go for treatment with insulin. [3]

6. Stop Smoking

Smoking tobacco can result in damage to the blood vessels leading to atherosclerosis. Due to the narrowing of the blood vessels or their damage, there will be less flow of blood through the kidneys. As a result, kidney functioning gets impaired and one is at increased risk of kidney disease. It has also been found that smoking can increase one’s blood pressure and even increase the possibility of having kidney cancer. [1, 3]

7. Limit the Intake of Over-The-Counter Pills

Taking some tablets and medications that are not prescribed by the doctor can worsen or cause kidney damage if taken for a long-time. Mostly, the family of medications associated with this is Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) and other painkillers. These drugs are known to decrease the blood supply to the kidneys. Furthermore, when one is unwell, one must not have diuretics or blood pressure-reducing drugs for some time to avoid making things worse. So, all those medications that have side effects on the kidneys must not be consumed for long periods as the kidneys may not be able to remove them from blood during urine production. To better understand this, discuss the medications or drugs with an expert general physician, pharmacist, or specialist nurse to ensure that one is not harming their kidneys. [2] [4]

References:

  1. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/ bengaluru/2022/may/12/how-to-keep-yourkidneys-safe-2452428.html
  2. https://www.thinkkidneys.nhs.uk/aki/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2016/02/BKPA-Patient-at-Risk-Leaflet_Printout.pdf
  3. https://www.uhhospitals.org/ Healthy-at-UH/articles/2018/03/seven-rules-for-kidney-health
  4. https://www.kidney.org/atoz/ content/sixstepshealthprimer

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