Every 5 minutes, 2 people die from kidney disease in India. This means 576 deaths occur on a daily basis accounting to nearly 2,00,000 deaths a year. This number is constantly on the rise due to increase in the number of people suffering from ailments like high blood pressure, diabetes etc. Family history of kidney failure also plays a major role in determining whether a person will have kidney disease.
We are coming up with information on kidney-health frequently with the sole aim to make you kidney friendly and to give you a insight as to how crucial kidney health is.
For starters, most people are born with two kidneys, but only one is needed by the body to work efficiently in the absence of any chronic disease. Each day, the kidneys filter 200 liters of blood, removing 2 liters of toxins, wastes and water in the process. Wastes and water ultimately leave the body as urine, and through this process, your kidneys are able to regulate the body’s fluid levels. The kidneys also release hormones that regulate blood pressure, produce red blood cells and help maintain healthy bones.
Often the kidneys are damaged slowly over time, which is one of the reasons why you might not feel sick until the kidneys are failing; making awareness, prevention and early detection of kidney disease critical. Protect your kidneys with the following six tips for reducing your risk of kidney disease.
1. Get tested. If you’re at risk for kidney disease (in case of family history of kidney disease), it’s important to get your kidneys checked during your annual physical. Even the best of us can delay/postpone when it comes to our yearly trip to the doctor, but prevention and testing go hand-in-hand. There are two simple tests to check for kidney disease:
• A urine test for albumin – Protein in the urine is one of the earliest signs of kidney damage. When there is too much protein in the urine, it means that the kidneys’ filters have been damaged and are starting to leak protein.
• A blood test for creatinine – Creatinine is a waste product (from muscle metabolism) that is removed by the kidney. Creatinine levels are used to calculate your estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). The eGFR reflects how well the kidneys are filtering wastes from the blood.
2. Control blood pressure and blood sugar levels. High blood pressure and diabetes are the two leading causes of kidney disease. The kidney is a vascular organ, meaning it contains many blood vessels. Therefore, diseases that damage the blood vessels, including high blood pressure and diabetes, can damage the kidneys. Even slightly high blood pressure (prehypertension) and elevated blood sugar levels, commonly referred to as pre-diabetes can damage the kidneys. Don’t let the “PRE” prevent you from taking them seriously. Manage these conditions to protect your kidneys.
3. Step on the scale. Maintaining a healthy weight has important implications for your kidneys. Being overweight means that the kidneys have to work harder to filter out toxins and to meet the metabolic demands of the increased body mass. Obesity also increases your chance of developing diabetes and high blood pressure, two major risk factors for kidney disease. Weight loss can help reduce your risk.
4. Commit to quit. Not only is smoking bad for your health, but it also reduces the blood flow to vital organs, like the kidneys. It can worsen kidney disease and diseases that damage the kidneys, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Quitting can be difficult, but it is one of the most important lifestyle changes that you can make to protect your kidneys and impact your overall health. Ask your doctor if you need help quitting.
5. Get moving and watch what you eat. Because damage to the kidneys usually happens slowly over time, daily decisions make a difference in preventing kidney disease. Making good choices each day such as incorporating physical activity and eating healthy foods will reduce your risk of developing kidney disease. Reduce your salt intake and watch for high sodium levels in processed foods, as these can lead to high blood pressure and harm the kidneys.
6. Exercise caution when taking pain medications. Many prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, including pain medications, are filtered by the kidneys. This means that your kidneys break down and remove these medications from the body. Always read labels and weigh the risks and benefits of taking a particular medicine. Avoid excessive use of medicines that can harm the kidneys, such as ibuprofen and aspirin.