National Kidney MonthIn a popular 1970 song, singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell asked, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”—a question that could have been aimed at people with kidney disease. The kidneys play a crucial role in maintaining overall health, but are rarely appreciated until they become damaged and can no longer do their jobs.
Top 5 Jobs Kidneys Do
Do you know what your kidneys do every day to keep you healthy? The answer is quite a lot. The kidneys play an important role in keeping your body functioning properly. Here are the 5 top jobs healthy kidneys perform.
1. Remove wastes and extra fluid. Your kidneys act like a filter to remove wastes and extra fluid from your body. Your kidneys filter about 200 quarts of blood each day to make about 1 to 2 quarts of urine. The urine contains wastes and extra fluid. This prevents buildup of wastes and fluid to keep your body healthy.
2. Control blood pressure. Your kidneys need pressure to work properly. Kidneys can ask for higher pressure if it seems too low, or try to lower pressure if it seems too high by controlling fluid levels and making the hormone that causes blood vessels to constrict.
3. Make red blood cells. Your kidneys make a hormone called erythropoietin. Erythropoietin tells bone marrow to make red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to supply all your body’s needs. Red blood cells give you the energy you need for daily activities.
4. Keep bones healthy. The kidneys make an active form of vitamin D. You need vitamin D to absorb calcium and phosphorus. Calcium and phosphorus are important minerals for making bones strong. The kidneys also balance calcium and phosphorus so your body has the right amount.
5. Control pH Levels. pH is a measure of acid and base. Your kidneys maintain a healthy balance of the chemicals that control acid levels. As cells break down, they make acids. The foods you eat can either increase or lower the amount of acid in your body. Your kidneys balance the pH of your body by either removing or adjusting the right amounts of acid and buffering agents.
Many of us don’t give much thought to our hardworking kidneys but the truth is 1 in 3 American adults are at risk for developing kidney disease. The main risk factors are diabetes, high blood pressure, a family history of kidney failure and being age 60 or older.
What Causes Chronic Kidney Disease?
The two main causes of chronic kidney disease (CKD) are diabetes and high blood pressure, which are responsible for up to two-thirds of the cases. Diabetes happens when your blood sugar is too high, causing damage to many organs in your body, including the kidneys and heart, as well as blood vessels, nerves and eyes. High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when the pressure of your blood against the walls of your blood vessels increases. If uncontrolled, or poorly controlled, high blood pressure can be a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes and chronic kidney disease. Also, chronic kidney disease can cause high blood pressure.
What are the Symptoms of CKD?
Most people may not have any severe symptoms until their kidney disease is advanced. However, you may notice that you:
• feel more tired and have less energy
• have trouble concentrating
• have a poor appetite
• have trouble sleeping
• have muscle cramping at night
• have swollen feet and ankles
• have puffiness around your eyes, especially in the morning
• have dry, itchy skin and need to urinate more often, especially at night.
The National Kidney Foundation offers
7 Golden Rules of Prevention to lower your chances of getting kidney disease.
1. Get regular check-ups
You take your car in for a tune-up to make sure it runs smoothly, so why wouldn’t you take care of your body? Your doctor can check for kidney disease with 2 simple tests: a urine test and blood test. A urine test called albumin creatinine ratio (ACR) checks if there is a protein called albumin in your urine. A blood test called glomerular filtration rate (GFR) tells how well your kidneys are working to remove waste from your body.
2. Control Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can damage your kidneys and increase your chances of getting kidney disease. If your blood pressure remains high, your doctor may have you take medicine. Making simple tweaks to your lifestyle, such as cutting back on salt and alcohol, losing excess weight, and exercising can help keep your blood pressure in check.
3. Control Blood Sugar
High blood sugar levels make the kidneys filter too much blood. Over time, this extra work stresses the kidneys and can cause damage. If you have diabetes, the best way to protect your kidneys is to keep your blood sugar well controlled. Your treatment plan may include diet, exercise, and medicine to lower your blood sugar levels.
4. Eat a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet plan, such as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet, can help lower blood pressure and lower your chances of getting heart disease and kidney disease. The DASH eating plan includes fruits, vegetables, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts. It also has less sodium, sugars, fats, and red meats.
You’ve heard if before and we’re going to say it again: you must exercise. https://www.kidney.org/atoz/atozTopic_Fitness-Rehabilitation. Exercise can help you keep a healthy weight, control blood pressure and cholesterol, build strength and endurance, and lower your chances of getting diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease. There are many types of exercises that can help you stay healthy including walking, household chores, playing a sport, or aerobic exercise (jogging, swimming, biking, climbing stairs, or hiking).
6. Quit Smoking
By now you should know the many dangers associated with smoking. Smoking causes diseases in every organ of the body, including the kidneys. If you are not able to quit smoking on your own, ask your doctor about treatment options.
7. Do Not Overuse Pain Medicines
Using too much pain medicines called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen) may cause kidney disease. Long-term use of NSAIDs, especially at high doses, reduces the blood flow to the kidney which causes harm to kidney tissue. Ask your doctor about other medicine to manage pain, such as acetaminophen.
Source: National Kidney Foundation