When illness or injury affects the kidneys, it can result in kidney disease. The kidneys have several functions that include filtering toxins out of the body and directing excess fluid toward the bladder so it can be released as urine. You can read more about your kidneys and the amazing things they do here.
Kidney disease prevents the kidneys from doing their usual job, resulting in a buildup of toxins throughout the body. This can lead to other serious health issues. Treatment differs from person to person and depends on the severity of the disease.
Everyone’s risk of developing kidney disease is different. It can be caused by acute illness, chronic health problems, or certain medical treatments. It can also be congenital or due to a family history of renal or kidney disease. Below is a list of some of the factors contributing to the development of kidney disease.
- A medical emergency that requires time in intensive care
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Some cancers and related treatments
Talk to your doctor about your own risk factors. A simple blood and urine test can also be a quick way to check your kidney health.
Steps to take
Keeping long-term health conditions well-managed is the first step to protecting your kidneys. Stay up-to-date with your doctor’s appointments, take medications as prescribed, and pay attention to any changes in how you’re feeling.
Staying hydrated is also important. It is recommended for most people to drink 6 to 8 glasses of fluid a day. This can include water as well as drinks like tea and coffee. The recommended amount sometimes differs in people with more severe kidney disease, so talk to your doctor if you are unsure how much you should drink.
A way to see if you’re drinking enough is to look at the colour of your urine. Light yellow is an appropriate colour. Dark or concentrated yellow can be a sign of dehydration. Everyone’s hydration needs are different. Talking to your doctor about how to properly hydrate is always an option.
Lifestyle choices also play an important role. Avoid smoking and drinking in excess. A healthy balanced diet is also important for kidney health, including plenty of fruit and vegetables and low levels of saturated fat, salt, and sugar.
Some people may also be given specific advice, such as reducing the amount of potassium or phosphate in a diet or avoiding grapefruit due to medication interactions. This will depend on the severity of the disease or the type of medication you are on and should be discussed with a doctor or dietician.
Kidney disease does not always cause symptoms, especially at the early stages. However, these can go on to develop if kidney disease is not picked up early or if it worsens. These include:
- Urinary symptoms, including peeing more at night or blood in your urine
- Swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet
- Weight loss and appetite changes
- Skin changes, like itchy skin
- Shortness of breath
- Weakness and muscle cramps
- Fatigue and difficulty sleeping
- Erectile dysfunction
If you have these symptoms or you have any concerns about your kidney health, then don’t hesitate to book an appointment.
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