Kidney disease can be caused due to a number of reasons and are widely spread among the elderly. The major risk factors for kidney diseases include diabetes, hypertension, a family history of kidney failure and being age 60 or older. Kidney diseases often show no symptoms and go undetected until they are very advanced. Nephrologists all over the world suggest that people with risk factors for kidney disease should get their kidney function checked regularly because early detection and treatment can help slow down or prevent the progression of kidney disease.
Two Simple Tests to Check for Kidney Diseases
As aforementioned, there are no symptoms in the early stages of kidney disease. Symptoms of kidney failure such as fatigue, nausea and fluid retention usually don’t occur till the late stages of kidney disease because the kidneys can still adequately filter the blood in spite of extensive damage. Usually, the first sign of kidney failure is the presence of protein in the urine, a condition called microalbuminuria. Not only is the condition a sign of kidney failure but it also represents a risk factor for cardiovascular disease such as heart attack and stroke. Two tests, a urine test and a blood test must be performed annually in patients at the risk of developing kidney disease.
- Urine Test: The urine test is done to determine Albumin Creatinine Ratio (ACR), which estimates the amount of albumin, a type of protein, present in the urine.
- Blood Test: The blood test helps determine the Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR), which tells how well the kidneys are functioning to remove wastes from the blood. It is one of the best ways to determine kidney function.
Symptoms of Advanced Stages of Kidney Disease
If kidney disease has reached an advanced stage, the patient will show the following symptoms:
- Weakness or fatigue
- Decreased appetite
- Increased thirst
- Painful urination
- Increased frequency of urination, especially in the nights
- Blood in the urine
- Swelling in the ankles, feet, hands, face, or abdomen
Some types of kidney diseases can be treated depending on the cause, but chronic kidney disease has no cure. The treatment for chronic kidney disease usually consists of measures to help control signs and symptoms, reduce complications and slow the progression of the disease. Ultimately, prevention is the first line of defense against developing kidney disease.
Prevention of Kidney Disease
If you are at risk of developing kidney disease or want to keep your kidneys healthy, you can take the following steps:
- Drink enough water: Drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water a day helps maintain proper kidney function. However, over-hydration has no benefits to kidney health.
- Follow a healthy diet: As kidney diseases develop as a result of conditions such as diabetes and blood pressure, it is important to adhere to a diet that helps keep these conditions under control. It is best to avoid foods rich in oil, sugar and salt.
- Exercise regularly: A healthy diet accompanied by regular exercise will help keep your weight in check and prevent the development of conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, thus avoiding the development of kidney disease.
- Quit smoking: Smoking has many damaging effects on the kidneys as it does to other parts of the body. Smoking can damage blood vessels and decrease blood flow to the kidneys, thus preventing them functioning normally. It can increase blood pressure levels that will again adversely affect the kidneys.
- Avoid the long-term use of over-the-counter drugs: Common over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen taken frequently over long periods of time may cause kidney damage. If you’re taking these drugs regularly for painful conditions such as arthritis, it is best to avoid these drugs and look for alternate methods to manage pain.