Kidneys aren’t very big, but they do important work. They keep us healthy by maintaining the right balance of water and other substances inside your body. Unfortunately, if kidneys start to malfunction, we might not realize it for a long while. Kidney disease usually doesn’t make us feel sick until the problem becomes serious and irreversible.
March is National Kidney Month and 10th March is celebrated as World Kidney Day. It’s a perfect time to learn more about how to keep our kidneys healthy and how to catch problems early.
Kidneys are 2 reddish, bean-shaped organs located on either side of your spine in the middle of your back. Their main job is to filter your blood. Each kidney contains about a million tiny filters that can process around 40 gallons of fluid every day— When blood passes through the kidney, the filters sift and hold onto the substances our body might need, such as certain nutrients and much of the water. Harmful wastes and extra water and nutrients are routed to the nearby bladder and flushed away as urine.
Our kidneys also produce several hormones. These hormones help to control your blood pressure, make red blood cells and activate vitamin D, which keeps your bones strong.
We all lose a little of our kidney function as we get older. People can even survive with just one kidney if they donate the other to a friend or family member.
But when kidney function drops because of underlying kidney disease, it’s something to be concerned about. Toxins and extra water can build up in your blood. Falling hormone production can cause other problems. About 1 in 10 adults nationwide, or about 20 million people, have at least some signs of kidney damage.
Currently, 9.1% of the world population are suffering from kidney disease and 16.4 % of the Indian population are suffering from kidney disease. Furthermore, about 1.2 million people in the world die of kidney diseases every year. Over 2 million people worldwide currently receive treatment with dialysis or a kidney transplant to stay alive, yet this number may only represent 10% of people who need treatment to live.
There are different types of kidney disease. Most strike both kidneys at the same time, reducing their filtering ability. When damage to kidneys happens quickly, it’s known as acute kidney injury. If it worsens slowly and silently for years or even decades, this is known as chronic kidney disease.
“Most people have few or no symptoms until chronic kidney disease is very advanced, there can be losing of three-fourths of kidney function and essentially have no symptoms.”
Chronic kidney disease can strike people of any race. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of kidney disease. Other risk factors for kidney disease include heart disease and a family history of kidney failure—a severe form of kidney disease.
If you have these risk factors, it’s important to be screened for kidney disease. That usually involves simple laboratory tests: a urine test to look for kidney damage, and a blood test to measure how well the kidneys are working.”
The urine test checks for a protein called albumin, which isn’t routinely detected when your kidneys are healthy. The blood test that includes serum creatinine levels is described as kidney failure.
Patients should know their Kidney functions. We usually cannot cure chronic kidney disease, but if we catch it early, we can slow down its progression.”
Without treatment, kidney disease often gets worse. As the kidney worsens, you may feel tired and weak, with nausea, vomiting, and itching. By that point, a person will need a kidney transplant or dialysis, so he/she should talk to their doctor about the possibility of these therapies long before they’re needed. It takes time to understand the options, and it’s easier to figure things out when you’re feeling healthy.
The preferred therapy for kidney failure is to have a kidney transplant, but not everyone can have a transplant. Some obstacles include long waiting lists for healthy kidneys and finding a well-matched donor.
Dialysis is a treatment that filters wastes and water from the blood, allowing patients with kidney failure to feel better and continue with everyday activities, but it can be challenging for patients and families.
Many steps can be taken to avoid or delay reaching the point of kidney failure. Some of them are controlling your blood pressure. A healthy lifestyle, including physical activity and a heart-healthy diet, can help to normalize blood pressure and also slow kidney disease.
But if there is already kidney damage, too much sodium and protein can have a negative effect. So eating less sodium and more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is advised. To reduce fats, choose lean meats and low-fat or fat-free dairy products.”
In kidney disease, additional changes to your diet are recommended. And if lifestyle changes aren’t enough to slow down kidney damage, medications are prescribed to reduce blood pressure, control blood glucose and lower your cholesterol.
Don’t wait to take the first step to keep your kidneys healthy. Talk to your health care provider about your kidneys and ask if you should be tested for kidney disease.
Protect Your Kidneys
# If you’re at risk for kidney disease—especially if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of kidney failure—talk to your health care provider to choose the best steps for you.
#Get your blood and urine checked for kidney disease.
#Learn to manage your diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease.
#Take medicines the way your provider advises.
#Cut back on salt. Aim for less than 1,500 mg of sodium daily.
#Choose foods that are healthy for your heart.
#Be physically active.
#Lose weight if you’re overweight.
#If you smoke, take steps to quit.
( Authors: Dr. AVINASH. R. ODUGOUDAR
MS, M.Ch (Urology) MIDDed (Renal Transplant)
Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, Fellowship in pelvic Uro Oncology and Robotic Surgery (Royal College of Surgeons England)
Dr. DEEPAK.KURAHATTI, MD, DNB (Nephrology)
K.H.PATIL HOSPITAL & RESEARCH INSTITUTE HULKOTI)
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