Healthy Kidneys Healthy You!

Kidney Diseases and Kidney Health

The kidneys are two fist-sized bean-shaped organs found at the bottom of rib cage one on each side of the spine

What is the importance/function of the kidneys?

The kidneys are important to keep the composition, or makeup, of the blood stable, which lets the body function. They

  • Make urine and prevent the buildup of wastes and extra fluid in the body.
  • Control your body’s chemical balance
  • Make hormone that help to control and regulate blood pressure, make red blood cells.
  • Keep your bones strong and healthy by activating a form of vitamin D that helps the body to absorb calcium.

How do the kidneys work?

Each kidney is made-up of about a million filtering units called nephrons which filters the blood. The nephron includes a filter, called the glomerulus, and a tubule. The glomerulus allows the fluid and waste products to pass through it; however, it prevents blood cells and large molecules, mostly proteins, from passing. The filtered fluid then passes through the tubule, which sends needed minerals back to the bloodstream and removes wastes. The final product becomes urine which is excreted from kidneys through ureters to the urinary bladder.

What causes kidney diseases?

Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and/or blood vessel disease, and a family history of kidney failure are the key risk factors for chronic kidney disease. If you or a family member have any of these risk factors, it is important to learn about the basics of kidney disease and how to keep the kidneys healthy longer and get tested for kidney disease.

What you should know about kidney disease:

  • There may be no signs or symptoms in early kidney disease.
  • Kidney disease usually does not go away.
  • Kidney disease can be treated. The earlier you know you have it, the better.
  • Kidney disease can progress to kidney failure, if not managed.

How to keep your kidneys healthy?

Kidney diseases are silent killers, which will largely affect the quality of life. There are however several easy ways to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease.

1. Keep fit and active

Keeping fit by regular exercise helps to reduce your blood pressure and therefore reduces the risk of Chronic Kidney Disease.

2. Keep regular control of your blood sugar level

About half of people who have diabetes develop kidney damage, so it is important for people with diabetes to have regular tests to check their kidney functions.

3. Monitor your blood pressure

Nany people may be aware that high blood pressure can lead to a stroke or heart attack, few know that it is also the most common cause of kidney damage.

4. Eat healthy and keep your weight in check

This can help prevent diabetes, heart disease and other conditions associated with Chronic Kidney Disease.

5. Maintain a healthy fluid intake

Although clinical studies have not reached an agreement on the ideal quantity of water and other fluids we should consume daily to maintain good health, traditional wisdom has long suggested drinking 2 to 2.5 liters of water per day.

In addition, people who have already had a kidney stone are advised to drink 2 to 3 litres of water daily to lessen the risk of forming a new stone.

6. Quit smoking

Smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. When less blood reaches the kidneys, it impairs their ability to function properly. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by about 50 percent.

7. Avoid to take over-the-counter pills on a regular basis

You should always follow the dosage instructions for over-the-counter medications. Taking too much aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen can cause kidney damage. Call your doctor if the normal doses of these medications aren’t controlling your pain effectively.

Get your kidney function checked if you have one or more of the ‘high risk’ factors

  • you have diabetes
  • you have hypertension
  • you are obese
  • one of your parents or other family members suffers from kidney disease

Dr. Akbar Jalal

Consultant Urologist

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