The maintenance of kidney health is crucial for general health and wellbeing. By maintaining healthy kidneys, your body will correctly filter and eliminate waste and create hormones to support optimal bodily function.Your kidneys put in a lot of effort to keep your body functioning at its best, from controlling fluid and acid-base balance to producing vital hormones, including one needed for the creation of red blood cells.However, if you don’t take care of your kidneys, they can’t take care of you. The kidneys need a healthy environment, according to Dr. Ehrard Bezuidenhout, a nephrologist at Life Rosepark Hospital in Bloemfontein. Diabetes mellitus and hypertension are the most common causes of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in the world,’ he explains.
What is kidney disease?
Chronic kidney disease, commonly known as chronic kidney failure, is characterized by a progressive decline in kidney function. Wastes and extra fluid are taken from the circulation by the kidneys and excreted in the urine. A severe buildup of fluid, electrolytes, and wastes can occur in your body as a result of advanced chronic renal disease.
You may not have many symptoms or indicators in the early stages of chronic renal disease. It is possible for kidney disease to progress before you become aware of it. The goal of treating chronic renal disease is to stop kidney damage from progressing, usually by addressing the underlying cause. However, even stopping the source could not stop kidney disease from escalating. Without mechanical filtering (dialysis) or a kidney transplant, end-stage renal failure from chronic kidney disease is fatal.
Symptoms of Kidney Disease
If kidney damage advances gradually, signs and symptoms of the chronic renal disease appear over time. An accumulation of fluid, a buildup of body waste, or electrolyte issues can all be brought on by kidney failure. Depending on how bad it is, renal function loss might result in
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue and weakness
- Sleep problems
- Urinating more or less
- Decreased mental sharpness
- Muscle cramps
- Swelling of feet and ankles
- Dry, itchy skin
- High blood pressure (hypertension) that’s difficult to control
- Shortness of breath, if fluid builds up in the lungs
- Chest pain, if fluid builds up around the lining of the heart
Kidney disease symptoms and signs are frequently vague. They can therefore also be brought on by different diseases. You might not experience symptoms until permanent damage has taken place since your kidneys can compensate for reduced function.
Causes of Kidney failor
When kidney function is compromised by a disease or condition, chronic kidney disease develops. Over the course of several months or years, the kidney damage gets worse.
Diseases and conditions that cause chronic kidney disease include:
- Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Glomerulonephritis (gloe-mer-u-low-nuh-FRY-tis), an inflammation of the kidney’s filtering units (glomeruli)
- Interstitial nephritis (in-tur-STISH-ul nuh-FRY-tis), an inflammation of the kidney’s tubules and surrounding structures
- Polycystic kidney disease or other inherited kidney diseases
- Prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract, from conditions such as enlarged prostate, kidney stones and some cancers
- Vesicoureteral (ves-ih-koe-yoo-REE-tur-ul) reflux, a condition that causes urine to back up into your kidneys
- Recurrent kidney infection, also called pyelonephritis (pie-uh-low-nuh-FRY-tis)
Complications of kidney failor
Chronic kidney disease can affect almost every part of your body. Potential complications include
- Fluid retention, which could lead to swelling in your arms and legs, high blood pressure, or fluid in your lungs (pulmonary edema)
- A sudden rise in potassium levels in your blood (hyperkalemia), which could impair your heart’s function and can be life-threatening
- Heart disease
- Weak bones and an increased risk of bone fractures
- Decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction or reduced fertility
- Damage to your central nervous system, which can cause difficulty concentrating, personality changes or seizures
- Decreased immune response, which makes you more vulnerable to infection
- Pericarditis, an inflammation of the saclike membrane that envelops your heart (pericardium)
- Pregnancy complications that carry risks for the mother and the developing fetus
- Irreversible damage to your kidneys (end-stage kidney disease), eventually requiring either dialysis or a kidney transplant for survival
What can I do to keep my kidneys healthy?
By avoiding or controlling medical problems like diabetes and high blood pressure that harm the kidneys, you can protect them. The actions listed below may support maintaining kidney health as well as the overall wellness of your body.
You might wish to inquire about the condition of your kidneys when you go to the doctor for your next checkup. Testing may be the only way to determine whether your kidneys are healthy because early kidney disease may not present with any symptoms. How frequently you should be tested will be decided in part by your healthcare professional. If you experience a urinary tract infection (UTI), which if ignored can lead to kidney damage, see a doctor right once.
Make healthy food choices
Pick fresh fruits, fresh or frozen veggies, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, and other heart- and body-healthy foods. Eat wholesome meals and limit your intake of salt and extra sweets. Aim for a daily salt intake of no more than 2,300 milligrams. Less than 10% of your daily calories should come from added sugars, if possible.
Tips for making healthy food choices
- Cook with a mix of spices instead of salt.
- Choose veggie toppings such as spinach, broccoli, and peppers for your pizza.
- Try baking or broiling meat, chicken, and fish instead of frying.
- Serve foods without gravy or added fats.
- Try to choose foods with little or no added sugar.
- Gradually work your way down from whole milk to 2 percent milk until you’re drinking and cooking with fat-free (skim) or low-fat milk and milk products.
- Eat foods made from whole grains—such as whole wheat, brown rice, oats, and whole-grain corn—every day. Use whole-grain bread for toast and sandwiches; substitute brown rice for white rice for home-cooked meals and when dining out.
- Read food labels. Choose foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
- Slow down at snack time. Eating a bag of low-fat popcorn takes longer than eating a slice of cake. Peel and eat an orange instead of drinking orange juice.
- Try keeping a written record of what you eat for a week. It can help you see when you tend to overeat or eat foods high in fat or calories.
According to research, lowering your blood pressure may be aided by the DASH diet plan (NIH external link). Find a nutritionist and collaborate with them to develop a food plan that is appropriate for you if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease.
Make physical activity part of your routine
Spend at least 30 minutes a day being active. If you are currently inactive, speak with your healthcare professional about the appropriate forms and levels of exercise. With these suggestions, you can increase your level of activity.
Manage diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease
If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease, the best way to protect your kidneys from damage is to
Keep blood glucose numbers close to your goal. Monitoring your blood glucose, often known as blood sugar, is crucial for managing diabetes. One or more times a day, you could be asked by your medical team to test your blood sugar.
Keep your blood pressure numbers close to your goal. Most diabetics should aim to keep their blood pressure below 140/90 mm Hg. Learn more about hypertension
Take all your medicines as prescribed. Discuss the possibility of renal protection with your doctor if you use certain blood pressure medications known as ACE inhibitors and ARBs. These drugs have names that end in -pril or -sartan.Use caution when taking over-the-counter painkillers on a regular basis. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen and naproxen, might harm your kidneys when taken frequently. Learn more about how your kidneys and over-the-counter medications interact.
To help prevent heart attacks and stroke, keep your cholesterol levels in the target range. LDL and HDL are the two types of cholesterol found in your blood. Your blood vessels may get clogged by LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. The “good” cholesterol HDL aids in clearing your blood vessels of the “bad” cholesterol. Triglycerides are a different class of blood fat that can be measured by a cholesterol test.
What Can You Do to Prevent Kidney Failure?
- Get tested for CKD regularly if you are at risk.
- Find it early. Treat it early.
- Ask your doctor to test your blood or pee. If you have diabetes, get tested yearly.
- If you have diabetes, stay in your target blood sugar range as much as possible.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Get active. Physical activity helps control blood sugar levels.
- Quit smoking.
- Getting a checkup? Make sure to get your kidneys checked too.
- Take medications as directed.
- If you have CKD, meet with a dietitian to make a kidney-healthy eating plan.