Health Torch Uganda: Not taking enough water increases the risks of kidney failure and other related damages

8 Ways to Keep Your Kidneys Healthy
By Health Torch Uganda 

Health Torch Uganda

Our kidneys are fist-sized bean shaped organs located at the bottom of our rib cage on both sides of our spine.
They contribute a lot to our body system.

The right Kidney

These bean shaped like body organs  filter waste products from metabolism such as urea, uric acid, and creatinine by producing and secreting urine. Urine may also contain sulfate and phenol waste and excess sodium, potassium, and chloride ions and other impurities from our blood.
These waste products are stored in our bladder and later expelled through urine.

In addition, the kidneys regulate PH (Potential of Hydrogen), salt and potassium levels in our bodies.

They also produce hormones that regulate blood pressure and control the production of red blood cells. These hormones include

Our kidneys are also responsible for activating a form of vitamin D that helps your body absorb calcium for building bones and regulating muscle function.

Sex Weight, standard reference range
Right kidney Left kidney
Men[9] 80–160 g (2.8–5.6 oz) 80–175 g (2.8–6.2 oz)
Women[10] 40–175 g (1.4–6.2 oz) 35–190 g (1.2–6.7 oz

Maintaining kidney health is important to your overall health and general well-being.
By keeping your kidneys healthy, your body will filter and expel waste properly and produce hormones to help your body function properly.

Tips to help keep your kidneys healthy.

Keep active and fit

Regular exercise is good for more than just our waistlines. It can lower the risk of chronic kidney disease.
It can also reduce our blood pressure and boost our heart health which are both important to preventing kidney damage.
We don’t have to run marathons to reap the reward of exercise. Walking, running, cycling and even dancing are great for our health. Finding an activity that keeps us busy and have fun. It’ll be easier to stick to it and have great results.

Control your blood sugar

People with diabetes or a condition that causes high blood sugar may develop kidney damage. When our body’s cells can’t use the glucose (sugar) in our blood, our kidneys are forced to work extra hard to filter the blood.
Over years of exertion, this can lead to life-threatening damage.
However, if we can control our blood sugar, we reduce the risk of damage.
Also if the damage is caught early, our doctor(s) can take steps to reduce or prevent additional damage.

Monitor blood pressure

High blood pressure can cause kidney damage. If high blood pressure occurs with other health issues like diabetes, heart disease or high cholesterol, the impact on our body can be significant. Lifestyle and dietary changes may help lower our blood pressure.
If the blood pressure readings are consistently above 140/90, It may signify a high blood pressure. Organizing a medical consultation with a doctor about monitoring the blood pressure regularly is of an advantage not only to our kidneys but to our life span as well.

Making changes to your lifestyle and possibly taking medication.

Monitoring weight and having a healthy diet
People who are overweight or obese are at risk for a number of health conditions that can damage the kidneys.

These include:

  1. diabetes
  2. Heart disease and kidney disease.

A healthy diet that’s low in sodium, processed meats, and other kidney damaging foods may help reduce the risk of kidney damage.
Focusing on eating fresh ingredients that are naturally low-sodium such as: cauliflower, blueberries, fish, whole grains and more.

Drinking plenty of fluids

There’s no magic behind the cliché advice to drink eight glasses of water a day but it’s a good goal precisely because it encourages you to stay hydrated.

Regular, consistent water intake is healthy for the kidneys.
Water helps clear sodium and toxins from the kidneys. It also lowers the risk of chronic kidney disease.

Aiming for at least 1.5 to 2 liters in a day. Exactly how much water we need depends largely on our health and lifestyle. Factors like climate, exercise, gender, overall health and whether or not pregnant or breastfeeding are important to consider when planning the daily water intake.

People who have previously had kidney stones should drink a bit more water to help prevent stone deposits in the future.

Don’t smoke

Smoking damages the body’s blood vessels.
This leads to slower blood flow throughout the body and to the kidneys.
Smoking also puts the kidneys at an increased risk for cancer. If  stopped , the risk will drop. However, it’ll take many years to return to the risk level of a person who’s never smoked.

Being conscious of the amount of OTC pills taken.

If regularly taken,  the over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication  may cause kidney damage.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen and naproxen can as well damage the kidneys if taken regularly for chronic pain, headaches or arthritis.

Talking with doctor about kidney-safe treatments if coping with pains is a recommendation to save the kidneys from cronical infections.

Having the kidney function tested if signs of kidney failures and related emerge.

If at high risk of kidney damage or kidney disease, it’s a good idea to have regular kidney function tests.

The following people may benefit from regular screening:

  1. People who are over 60 years old
  2. People who were born at a low birth weight
  3. People who have cardiovascular disease or have family with it
  4. People who have or have a family history of high blood pressure
  5. People who are obese
  6. People who believe they may have kidney damage

A regular kidney function test is a great way to know our kidney’s health and to check for possible changes.
Getting ahead of any damage can help slow or prevent future damage.

Kidney diseases

Chronic kidney disease

The most common form of kidney disease is chronic kidney disease.
A major cause of chronic kidney disease is:

High blood pressure.
Because our kidneys are constantly processing the body’s blood, they’re exposed to about 20 percent of the total volume of blood every minute.
High blood pressure is dangerous for the kidneys because it can lead to increased pressure on the glomeruli, the functional units of the kidney.
In time this high pressure compromises the filtering apparatus of your kidneys and their functioning declines.
Eventually, kidney function will deteriorate to the point where they can no longer properly perform their job thus going on dialysis becoming a recommendation. Dialysis filters fluid and wastes out of the blood but it isn’t a long-term solution. Eventually, a kidney transplant becomes an option at a cost as well.

Diabetes is another major cause of chronic kidney disease. Over time, uncontrolled blood sugar levels will damage the functional units of our kidneys, also leading to kidney failure.

Kidney stones
Another common kidney problem is kidney stones. Minerals and other substances in our blood may crystallize in the kidneys, forming solid particles, or stones that usually pass out of our bodies in urine.
Passing kidney stones can be extremely painful but rarely causes significant problems.

Glomerulonephritis is an inflammation of the glomeruli, microscopic structures inside our kidneys that perform the filtration of blood. Glomerulonephritis can be caused by infections, drugs, congenital abnormalities and autoimmune diseases.
This condition may get better on its own or require immunosuppressive medications.

Polycystic kidney disease

Individual kidney cysts are fairly common and usually harmless but polycystic kidney disease is a separate more serious condition.
Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic disorder that causes many cysts, round sacs of fluid, to grow inside and on the surfaces of our kidneys, interfering with kidney function.

Urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections are bacterial infections that infect our urinary system. Infections in the bladder and urethra are most common. They’re generally easily treatable and have few, if any, long-term consequences.
However, if left untreated these infections can spread to the kidneys and lead to kidney failure.

kidneys are vital to your overall health.
These organs are responsible for many functions from processing body waste to making hormones. That’s why taking care of them should be a top health priority.

Maintaining an active health-conscious lifestyle is the best thing we can do to make sure the kidneys stay healthy.

In case of a chronic health condition that increases the risk for kidney damage or kidney disease, consulting the doctor is a recommendation so as to prevent further damages to the kidneys.

By Namugerwa Christine @ Health Torch Uganda

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