Kidney disease is a major health problem in the world today. More than 10% of the population worldwide, that is around 800 million people globally have chronic kidney disease, and that number is on the rise.
The good news is that there are many ways to prevent and cure kidney disease. Where you live, your family history, how you eat, how much you exercise, and how much you drink all play a role in whether or not you develop this condition.
If you have diabetes mellitus or high blood pressure, bringing these conditions under control can also help reduce your risk of developing kidney disease.
In this article, we will investigate the causes of kidney disease and find out if you are at risk for developing it.
As with most diseases, prevention is the best cure for keeping kidneys healthy. Read on for more information about preventing and curing kidney disease.
Before we proceed in detail, let’s have a quick recap of your kidneys. You can read it here below-
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What is kidney disease?
There are many different types of kidney disease. Some types are acute, meaning they happen suddenly and last for a limited time. Other types of kidney disease are chronic, meaning they are long-term and may even be permanent.
A few types of kidney disease that you should be aware of include:
- Kidney stones– Kidney stones cause obstruction to flow of urine thus causing infection and kidney destruction
- Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) – This is a long-term condition that can lead to kidney failure.
- Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) – AKI is a sudden drop in kidney function that often happens as a result of a medical procedure or any injury or trauma, blood loss etc.
- Glomerulonephritis (GN) – GN is an inflammation of the glomeruli (the filtering structures in the kidneys).
- Kidney infection-Pyelonephritis- pus in the kidney that destroys the filtration mechanism of the kidney [see illustration below]
- Polycystic Kidney disease
- Kidney cancer
Image of Pyelonephritis-
Here is one very informative podcast on Oxalate kidney stones by Dr.Todd Brand-
Kidney Disease symptoms and signs
If you have kidney disease, you may not notice it until your kidneys have significantly deteriorated. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of your health and have routine blood tests done to detect and monitor any changes before they become serious.
- Fatigue and weakness – If your kidneys are not working properly, they will not be able to produce enough erythropoietin, a hormone that regulates red blood cell production. This can lead to anemia, fatigue, and weakness.
- Swelling in the ankles – If your kidneys become damaged, they will not be able to remove excess fluid from your body. This can lead to swelling in the ankles and legs.
- A change in your urination schedule – If your kidneys are diseased, they will be unable to properly regulate sodium levels. This can lead to increased urination, dehydration, and frequent urination at night.
- Mood changes – If your kidneys are damaged, they can’t process the breakdown products of certain medications. As a result, these chemicals will build up in your system and could cause mood changes.
- Changes in bowel movements – If your kidneys are diseased, they will not be able to process certain toxins that the intestines normally remove from the body. This can lead to abdominal cramping, pain, and changes in bowel movements.
What are the investigations in kidney disease
If an initial blood test shows that your kidneys are functioning at less than 50% of their capacity, a doctor will usually order more tests to figure out what’s causing the problem.
- BUN and creatinine test – These two tests measure the amount of waste products like urea, creatinine, and uric acid in your blood. If your kidneys aren’t working properly, your body’s metabolism will speed up. This means you’ll produce more waste products, but your kidneys won’t be able to filter them out of your blood. These two tests are therefore a good indicator of how well your kidneys are functioning.
- Blood panel (urea and electrolytes test) – This is a basic blood test that can give your doctor a good idea of how well your kidneys is functioning.
- Urine microscopy and dipstick tests
- eGFR calculation- this shows how good your kidney is functioning. Click this link to learn how good your kidneys are- eGFR
How does ultrasonography scan detect kidney disease?
Kidney disease is often detected by an ultrasound scan of the kidneys. This test is painless and non-invasive. The test uses sound waves to examine the kidneys and determine whether they are functioning normally.
- Ultrasound Sonography: If blood test results are inconclusive, your doctor may order a kidney ultrasound sonography to look at what’s happening inside your kidneys. It can show ratio of cortex to medulla in the echotexture of the kidneys.
- CT scan: If your ultrasound results are inconclusive, your doctor may order a CT scan. A CT scan uses X-rays to take a detailed image of your kidneys. This test is useful for detecting signs of damage to the kidneys.
- MRI: If your ultrasound and CT scan results are inconclusive, your doctor may order a MRI. An MRI uses radio magnetic waves to create a detailed image of your kidneys. This test is particularly useful for detecting small abnormalities like polycystic kidney disease [see above] that might go unnoticed by other tests.
How to Prevent Kidney Disease
- Stay as healthy as possible – One of the best ways to prevent kidney disease is to stay as healthy as possible. You can do this by eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight.
- Treat existing conditions – If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, bring these conditions under control to reduce your risk of developing kidney disease.
- Quit smoking – Smoking can damage your kidneys and increase your risk of developing kidney disease.
- Manage stress – The kidneys are particularly sensitive to stress, so if you’re feeling stressed out, try taking some time to relax. Stress can negatively affect your immune system, which could lead to an infection that damages your kidneys.
- Stay hydrated – Drink lots of water each day to help flush toxins out of your body. Also, water can help prevent dehydration.
- Take vitamins – If you don’t eat a very healthy diet, consider taking a multivitamin to make up for what you’re missing.
Controlling diabetes and hypertension in kidney disease.
- Control your blood pressure – High blood pressure can damage your kidneys and lead to kidney disease. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure can make diabetes more difficult to control.
- Control your blood sugar – If you have diabetes, controlling your blood sugar can help prevent kidney disease.
- Eat a healthy diet – A healthy diet can help prevent many diseases and disorders, including kidney disease.
- Exercise – Exercise can help combat high blood pressure and help control your blood sugar.
- See your doctor – Visit your doctor every year for a checkup and to discuss any health concerns you may have.
Diet and Fitness to Prevent Kidney Disease
- Eat a healthy diet – A healthy diet can help prevent many diseases and disorders, including kidney disease. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Focus on eating whole foods that are low in calories and rich in nutrients, such as beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
- Eat less red meat – Red meat can increase your risk of developing kidney disease.
- Avoid processed foods – Stay away from processed foods, which don’t contain many nutrients and can increase your risk of developing kidney disease.
- Limit alcohol – The health risks of consuming too much alcohol are well known. Limit your alcohol intake to reduce your risk of developing kidney disease.
- Stay hydrated – Drink lots of water each day to help flush toxins out of your body. Water can also help prevent dehydration.
- Exercise – Exercise can help combat high blood pressure and help control your blood sugar.
- Get enough sleep – Resting enough can help your body repair itself and can help prevent many diseases, including kidney disease.
Other Ways to Help Prevent Kidney Disease
- Avoid tobacco – The health risks of consuming too much tobacco are well known. Smoking can damage your kidneys and lead to kidney disease.
- Avoid infections – Infections can damage your kidneys, so try your best to avoid them. Washing your hands, avoiding large crowds, and getting vaccinated can help prevent infection.
- Keep your blood pressure under control – If you have hypertension, keep your blood pressure under control to help prevent kidney disease.
- Be wary of certain medications – Certain medications can damage your kidneys, so be wary of taking them if you have a family history of kidney disease.
- Get your blood tested – Blood tests are a simple way to monitor your health and detect diseases early, such as kidney disease.
- Stay connected – Stay connected with your friends and family members and try to avoid feelings of isolation. Isolation can increase your risk of developing many diseases, including kidney disease.
The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste products out of the blood, along with other crucial life-sustaining functions, including maintaining normal blood pressure and regulating blood sugar.
Kidney failure is when these kidney functions become impaired, usually due to either a chronic (long-term) infection or to a sudden, life-threatening situation. Kidney failure is the second leading cause of death worldwide.
In acute kidney failure, the kidneys start to fail almost immediately. In chronic kidney failure, the symptoms may not start until several years later. The sooner kidney failure is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can start. Luckily, there are many ways to prevent and cure kidney disease.
Unfortunately, kidney disease is often underdiagnosed and underreported. That’s because many of the symptoms associated with advanced kidney disease are similar to those of other diseases and can be easily confused with symptoms that are caused by other conditions.
There are many risk factors for developing kidney disease that you can control, including:
- High blood pressure: A condition in which the heart pumps more force than normal to pump blood through the body. Having high blood pressure increases your risk of developing kidney disease.
- Diabetes: A metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar (glucose) levels. There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Kidney disease is seen more often in people with Type 2 diabetes.
- Infection of kidney- follow urinary tract hygiene to prevent infections.
My next article will be a continuation of this article- a detailed knowledge about Chronic Kidney Disease-aka-Kidney failure. Be sure to follow my articles. Do subscribe using your email and keep abreast of many diseases and ailments that befall us.
If you would like to learn about any other health conditions or ailments, do reach out to me. I will certainly publish an article on that health condition in my forthcoming blogs.
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