What are Kidneys?
The kidneys are 2 bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist. They are found in your back on either side of the spine. Kidneys are mainly responsible for filtering waste products, excess water, and other impurities out of the blood. These toxins are stored in the bladder and then removed during urination. The kidneys also regulate pH, salt, and potassium levels in the body. They produce hormones that regulate blood pressure and control the production of red blood cells. The kidneys even activate a form of vitamin D that helps the body absorb calcium.
What is kidney disease?
It occurs when your kidneys become damaged and can’t perform their function. Damage may be caused by diabetes, high blood pressure, and various other chronic (long-term) conditions. Kidney disease can lead to other health problems, including weak bones, nerve damage, and malnutrition. If the disease gets worse over time, your kidneys may stop working completely.
What are the types of kidney disease?
Chronic kidney disease
The most common form of kidney disease is chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease is a long-term condition that doesn’t improve over time. It’s commonly caused by high blood pressure. Kidney function will eventually deteriorate to the point where the kidneys can no longer perform their job properly and the patient may need dialysis.
Diabetes is also a major cause of chronic kidney disease. The increased level of sugar in the blood damages the blood vessels in the kidneys over time. This means the kidneys can’t clean the blood properly. Kidney failure can occur when your body becomes overloaded with toxins.
Kidney stones are another common kidney problem. They occur when minerals and other substances in the blood crystallize in the kidneys, forming solid masses (stones). Kidney stones usually come out of the body during urination. In some cases, they need medical help.
Polycystic kidney disease
Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic disorder that causes numerous cysts (small sacs of fluid) to grow in the kidneys. These cysts can interfere with kidney function and cause kidney failure.
Urinary tract infections
Urinary Tract infections (UTIs) are bacterial infections of any part of the urinary system. Infections in the bladder and urethra are the most common. They are easily treatable, however, if left untreated, these infections can spread to the kidneys and cause kidney failure.
What are the symptoms of kidney disease?
Kidney disease is a condition that can easily go unnoticed until the symptoms become severe. The following symptoms are early warning signs that you might be developing kidney disease:
- Muscle cramping.
- Swollen feet/ ankles.
- Puffiness around the eyes in the morning.
- Dry, scaly skin.
- Frequent urination.
Severe symptoms that could mean your kidney disease is progressing into kidney failure include:
- Nausea/ vomiting.
- Changes in urine output.
- Fluid retention.
- Sudden rise in potassium levels.
What are the risk factors for developing kidney disease?
Here are a few factors that increase your risk of getting a kidney disease:
- High blood pressure.
- Uncontrolled diabetes.
- Heart disease.
- Family history of chronic kidney disease.
- Old age.
What is Kidney Failure?
Kidney (renal) failure is when kidneys don’t work as well as they should. The term “kidney failure” covers a lot of problems.
Dialysis and kidney disease
Dialysis is an artificial method of filtering the blood. It’s used when someone’s kidneys have failed or are close to failing. Many people with end-stage kidney disease must go on dialysis permanently or until a donor’s kidney is found.
There are two types of dialysis: Hemodialysis and Peritoneal dialysis.
In hemodialysis, the blood is pumped through a special machine that filters out waste products and fluid. Hemodialysis is done at your home or in a hospital or dialysis center.
In peritoneal dialysis, the peritoneum (membrane that lines the abdominal wall) stands in for the kidneys. A tube is implanted and used to fill the abdomen with a fluid called dialysate. Waste products in the blood flow from the peritoneum into the dialysate. The dialysate is then drained from the abdomen.
A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure to place a healthy kidney from a living or deceased donor into a person whose kidneys no longer function properly. When your kidneys lose this filtering ability, harmful levels of fluid and waste accumulate in your body, which can raise your blood pressure and result in kidney failure (end-stage kidney disease). End-stage renal disease occurs when the kidneys have lost about 90% of their ability to function normally. A kidney transplant can treat chronic kidney disease or end-stage renal disease to help you feel better and live longer.
Preventing Chronic Kidney Disease
You can protect your kidneys by preventing or managing health conditions that cause kidney damage. Here are a few health tips to keep your kidneys healthy:
1. Make healthy food choices
Choose foods that are healthy for your kidneys. Cut back on salt and sugar and avoid processed foods. Eat whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables.
2. Make physical activity part of your routine
Be active for 30 minutes or more on most days. Start a workout plan you enjoy like gymming, pilate, running or join an active sport you like playing.
Get enough sleep
Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. If you have trouble sleeping, take steps to improve your sleep habits.
3. Stop smoking
Smoking highly increases your risk of kidney disease, quit today.
4. Limit alcohol intake
Drinking too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure and add extra calories, which increases your risk of getting a kidney disease.
5. Explore stress-reducing activities
Take up activities like yoga, meditation or join a hobby to help manage your stress better.
6. 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 your numbers in control and to take all medicines as prescribed.
Are you suffering from any kidney disorders? Do you suspect any symptoms of kidney disease? Consult our highly experienced nephrologists at our Department of Nephrology for more help. Please find below link: