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All You Need to Know Kidney Health

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All You Need to Know Kidney Health

Renal Sciences | Posted on 12/29/2022 by Dr. Sheel Bhadra Jain



Overview

The kidney plays a major role in the human body. It filters the blood and removes the waste from the body. The human body's fluid balance is maintained by the kidneys. It maintains the right level of electrolytes. Proper care of kidneys is very important otherwise some diseases may affect their functionality.

Kidneys involve regulating the pH, potassium, and salt levels in the body. It produces hormones that are useful in blood pressure regulation and controlling red blood cell production. They even activate vitamin D which is beneficial for the human body when it comes to absorbing calcium. So, it is crucial to check for your kidney health because kidney diseases can cause various other issues such as nerve damage, weak bones, and malnutrition.

According to a study, kidney disease affects around 13.3 million people across the world. Kidney disease occurs when the kidneys are damaged and aren’t efficient enough to perform their function. Kidney illness can be caused by different reasons like high blood pressure, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.

It is important to understand that if kidney health is overlooked, it might stop working entirely. This implies that dialysis will be needed so that kidneys can perform their functions. Dialysis will help in filtering and purifying the blood with the use of a machine, however, it wouldn’t cure kidney disease, but can help with prolonging your life.

In this write-up, we will discuss everything in detail covering tips to maintain kidney health, different kidney diseases, tips to maintain kidney health, symptoms, etc. It is a comprehensive write-up meant for informational purposes only.

What are the different types of kidney diseases?

There are different types of kidney disease but some of the common ones are:

  • Chronic kidney disease

One of the common types is chronic kidney disease which is a long-term condition that doesn’t improve over time. The primary cause for this type is high blood pressure which is very dangerous for kidney health. High BP increases the pressure on glomeruli, tiny blood vessels in the kidney where blood is cleaned. It becomes difficult for the kidneys to perform functions effectively with this type. To treat this type of kidney disease, there might be a requirement for a kidney transplant.

  • Kidney stones

Kidney stones are again one of the most common kidney diseases. It occurs when minerals and other substances in the blood form in the kidneys. Passing kidney stones can be very painful and cause substantial issues in rare cases.

  • Glomerulonephritis

Glomerulonephritis is an infection in the glomeruli which is a small structure inside the kidneys responsible for blood filtration. This type of disease can be caused due to different reasons such as disorders, drugs, and infection. It usually improves on its own.

  • Polycystic kidney disease

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is among other types and is a genetic disorder causing numerous cysts that develop in the kidneys. The cysts can interfere with the functionality of the kidney and cause failure. Single kidney cysts are common and usually not harmful. However, if PKD is left untreated, it can cause severe damage to the kidney’s health.

  • Urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are bacterial infections in the kidneys that can also affect normal functioning. It is common for people to experience bladder and urethra infections. These problems are easily curable and rarely cause any serious health issues. However, if they aren’t treated on time then it can cause kidney failure.

What are the kidney disease symptoms you must know?

All of us must be aware of kidney disease symptoms as they can go unnoticed usually and can get severe. Here are the early warning kidney disease symptoms:

  • Fatigue and trouble sleeping
  • Difficult concentrating
  • Poor appetite and muscle cramping
  • Eye puffiness in the morning
  • Dry and scaly skin
  • Frequent urination
  • Swollen feet and ankles

There are symptoms which can cause severe damage and can lead to kidney failure:

  • Changes in urine pattern
  • Fluid retention
  • Low sexual drive
  • Anaemia
  • A sudden increase in potassium levels
  • Pericardium inflammation
  • Appetite loss
  • Nausea and vomiting

How to check your kidney health at home?

There are different types of test kits that are available these days to check kidney health at home. You can also order tests from the comfort of your home. There are two kidney function test types which are blood and urine tests.

Blood tests

Blood tests are useful in checking how well the kidneys are filtering out waste from the blood. There are different ranges mentioned in the kit which you need to see and the ranges are defined as glomerular filtration rate (GFR). If GFR is less than 15, then there might be a requirement for a kidney transplant or dialysis. You should consult the kidney specialist in Jaipur in such a case and your healthcare expert will measure the creatinine level in the blood to evaluate GFR. People with high creatinine levels usually experience more kidney diseases than those who have low creatinine levels.

Urine tests

You can check your kidneys by checking your albumin levels. Albumin is a protein that can cause kidney damage. There are two types of urine tests which include:

  • The dipstick urine test helps in checking if your urine has albumin.
  • Second is the urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR) which helps in measuring the albumin and creatinine levels in the urine. If UACR is showing less than 30 mg, then there is a need to undergo another test.

How can you choose at-home tests to check kidney health?

If you are looking for an at-home kidney function test, then make sure to consider the following points before you make a purchase:

  • First, it is important to choose certified laboratories with clinical laboratory improvement amendments certification. This represents that the chosen laboratory is meeting the certifications and testing standards efficiently.
  • Consultation is the next step when you are planning to check your kidney health at home. Companies are offering clinical experts for people who want to discuss their test results.
  • A collection kit is your next step. If you are ordering the kidney test kit from an online provider, make sure to check that it comes with all the necessary tools so that taking a blood sample is easier for you. Also, check if the test has all the instructions to be followed.

Best foods for kidney health

We have picked the best foods for kidney health that you must add to your diet. These food items will not only help with improving your kidney health but also improve its ability to perform functions:

  • Fatty fish

Fish contain protein and omega-3 fatty acids. It helps in reducing the levels of fat in the blood and lowers blood pressure. Make sure to keep an eye on the phosphorus and levels of potassium while choosing the fish if you have kidney disease.

  • Cabbage

This food item contains potassium, sodium, fibre, vitamin C, and K. It is one of the versatile foods and you can add them to salads or slaws. If you have any type of kidney disease, make sure to include cabbage in sandwiches, tacos, etc.

  • Bell peppers

Bell peppers also have good nutrients and low potassium levels. It is also filled with vitamins such as B6, B9, C, and K, including fibre. This food item contains antioxidants as well so don’t skip it.

  • Cranberries

Cranberries help prevent different types of urinary tract infections. UTIs usually stay in your bladder, but they can also travel up to the kidney and can make kidney diseases worse. If you eat cranberries frequently, then you can avoid this unpleasant situation. Cranberries have antioxidant properties which are useful in fighting inflammation. It also improves your digestive and heart health.

  • Leafy vegetables

If you want to prevent kidney diseases, then add leafy greens such as spinach, kale, etc. to your diet. Leafy vegetables have numerous nutrients and help you get the required minerals, vitamins, etc. It also has immunity-boosting benefits, but leafy vegetables also have potassium, so make sure to consult your doctor before consuming.

  • Apple

An apple is one of the best and healthful snacks containing an important fibre known as pectin. It helps in reducing the risk of kidney damage and eliminates other health issues such as high blood sugar and levels of cholesterol.

Food to avoid for kidney health

If you are experiencing kidney disease, there are food items you need to avoid for kidney health such as phosphorus, potassium, and sodium. Every individual’s body is different, so you must discuss this with your healthcare experts according to your dietary requirements. You can also consult the registered dietitian if you need to at your dialysis centre.

Additionally, here are some kidney health tips that you can follow:

  • While cooking food, make sure to not use excessive salt and also don’t put salt on food while eating.
  • Always read food labels and avoid eating foods that contain more than 300 mg of sodium per serving.
  • Avoid eating bacon, hot dogs, lunch meats, tender chicken, regular canned soup, etc.
  • Include canned vegetables that mention “no salt added” on its label.
  • Avoid purchasing refrigerated and frozen meat food items.

Conclusion

Your kidneys are an important organ of the body as it filters fluid and wastes out of your blood. We, humans, cannot live without this organ; hence it is crucial to always keep an eye on kidney health. There are different health conditions such as diabetes, and blood pressure which can cause kidney failure, chronic kidney disease, and heart disease. You must be tested annually if you have any of these conditions.

It is also essential to keep a check on your food habits so only include items that ensure good kidney health. You should avoid certain food items as mentioned above and follow the tips discussed in the write-up.

FAQs

 

How can you make your kidney health better?

Different ways are there to help you keep your kidney health better such as:

  • Make sure to monitor weight and eat a healthy diet
  • Keep yourself active and fit
  • Keep your blood sugar in control
  • Monitor blood pressure and weight
  • Quit smoking and alcohol
  • Always be cautious of over-the-counter pills you take
  • Get your kidney function test annually

How can you check if your kidneys are doing fine?

Blood tests are the best way to know if your kidneys are okay. The blood tests will help in identifying the functioning of your kidneys and how quickly the kidneys are removing the waste.