Your kidneys perform very vital functions in the body, such as cleaning your blood, separating waste and removing fluid. Neglecting your kidneys can result in severe Kidney disease, which may lead to their failure. Once this happens, you need dialysis treatments (hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis) or a kidney transplant to stay alive.
Best ways to keep your kidneys healthy and strong
When your kidneys are healthy, your body will filter and expel waste properly and produce hormones to help your body function optimally. Here are some tips to help keep your kidneys healthy.
Eat a healthy diet: Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products are kidney-friendly foods that should be consumed more often. Cut back on salt and added sugars as much as possible.
Move more: At least 30 minutes of exercise every day will do your kidney a whole lot of good. Choose any physical activity you enjoy doing, such as dancing, walking, running, cycling etc.
Drink at least 2 litres of water daily: Water gives your kidneys the fluid they need to function well. It gets rid of waste from your body in the form of urine and opens up your blood vessels so that blood can travel freely to your kidneys.
Limit alcohol intake: Excessive alcohol intake is harmful to your kidney as it can increase your blood pressure and add extra calories, which can lead to weight gain.
Be aware of the amount of OTC pills you take: No matter how harmless over-the-counter drugs may seem, it is advisable to check with your doctor before taking them. When taken in excess, medications such as aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen can damage your kidneys.
When should you be concerned about your kidneys?
Before a medical condition transitions into a full-blown one, there are often some warning signs. Ignoring these signs can put your health in danger. You may need to see a nephrologist if you have the following signs and symptoms:
- A change in urine frequency or quantity
- Blood in urine
- Puffy face and swollen ankles
- Frothy or foamy urine
- Feeling of tiredness
- Dry and itchy skin
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle cramps
Risk factor for kidney diseases
Those at higher risk of kidney disease include those suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity (being overweight) and people with a family history of chronic kidney disease. Kidney infections and physical injury can also cause kidney disease.
Regular Kidney check-ups
Most people with early kidney disease do not have symptoms. Regular check-ups can help detect kidney disease in its early stages for immediate commencement of treatment which can prevent it from getting worse. Here are the three simple tests which should be done at least once a year.
Urinalysis: Urinalysis involves checking the appearance, concentration, and content of the urine for any abnormalities. This helps detect and manage a wide range of kidney disorders, such as urinary tract infections, kidney disease and diabetes.
Glomerular filtration rate (GFR): This is the best way to check kidney function. The GFR reveals how well your kidneys are working to extract wastes from your blood. Your blood will be tested for a waste product called creatinine which comes from muscle tissue. Your kidneys will have trouble removing creatinine from your blood if they are damaged.
Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is caused by a series of health complications, and kidney disease is one of them. Keeping your blood pressure between 130-180 lowers the risk of kidney diseases, heart and blood vessel disease, as well as stroke.
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