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Caring for your Kidneys

The kidneys are a pair of important organs in the body which perform a variety of functions to maintain homeostasis. Their main functions include:

  • The excretion of waste resulting from cell metabolism. These wastes include toxins, urea and excess salts.
  • Balancing water levels in the body
  • Regulation of blood pressure
  • Regulation of red blood cells production
  • Acid regulation

Kidney disease develops and progresses very slowly, so the symptoms appear late, often, when the kidneys have been damaged to a considerable extent. If the condition is left untreated, the person may later have to go through multiple sessions of dialysis to replace the lost kidney function or a kidney transplant if the kidneys are severely damaged. Kidney diseases, even if their mild, increase a person’s risk for heart attack, stroke, anemia and bone disease.

Kidney disease has become rampant across the world and the reasons for this are obesity, Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure which are the result of lifestyle choices. Another common cause for kidney disease is the regular intake of over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen over long periods of time.

What you need to follow

People with high blood pressure, diabetes and/or a family history of kidney failure are at high risk of developing kidney dysfunction. If you are at risk for kidney disease and especially if you’re aged above 60, it is very important to get regular blood and urine check-ups done to ensure the normal functioning of your kidneys.

In order to keep your kidneys healthy, it is important to drink enough water to keep your body hydrated. It is advisable to drink about 4-6 glasses of water a day.

It is important to keep your blood pressure at the target rate suggested by your doctor, it should usually be less than 140/80 mm Hg.

If you’re a diabetic it is very important to keep your glucose levels under control.

Obese individuals should exercise regularly to achieve ideal body weight. Also, it is important for everyone, obese or non-obese, to keep their cholesterol levels in the standard range.

Diet is an important factor to keep the heart healthy and in turn, allow the kidneys to function properly. Low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables should form a major part of your diet. And, it is also important to keep a check on your daily salt intake.

Smoking causes heart diseases which may affect the function of the kidneys. Smoking is also known to double the rate of progression to end stage renal disease (ESRD). Therefore, it is very important for an individual at risk of kidney disease to quit smoking. Limiting your alcohol intake is also important.

If a patient is regularly taking pain-killers for chronic conditions such as arthritis, it is important to consult a doctor to see if there are alternative methods to reduce pain, because over-the-counter pills such as ibuprofen and other NSAIDs cause kidney damage if taken regularly over long periods.

Last but not the least, diabetics and high blood pressure patients should undergo regular kidney function screening to keep a check on the kidney function.

Therefore, the main intent of a patient with a risk for kidney dysfunction should be to keep his/her body in good health by way of regular exercise and healthy diet, to prevent kidney disease and to avoid developing any other disease that could affect kidney health.

 
 

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