According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, approximately 15% of adults in the United States have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).
Of those, 48% have severely reduced kidney function, but are not aware they have the condition at all. The rest have minor damage or mildly reduced kidney function. They are also not aware they have this condition.
Your renal health is more important than you might think. This article explains that importance. It also provides the standard rules for how to take care of your kidneys.
What Do Your Kidneys Do?
Your kidneys have a vital role in keeping your body healthy. Your kidneys remove toxins and excess fluid from your blood. Thus, the kidneys control your blood pressure.
They also stimulate the body's production of red blood cells. Finally, the kidneys play a part in keeping your bones healthy.
When Your Kidneys are Not Working as They Should
If your kidneys are not functioning as they should, you may be at risk for Chronic Kidney Disease. This condition causes your kidneys to lose function over time slowly. Sometimes it takes months or even years.
Once your kidney function drops below a certain point, you move into what's called kidney failure. Kidney failure will affect your entire body. If it goes untreated, the condition can become life-threatening.
Complications of CKD
Of the 15 % mentioned above of adults who have some form of kidney damage, millions will die each year prematurely because of complications related to CKD.
Not only are kidney diseases silent killers, but they also affect your quality of life. If you have high blood pressure, a family history of kidney failure, or diabetes, you are at an increased risk of developing kidney disease.
How to Improve Kidney Health
Even if you do not have an extra risk, you should still pay attention to your renal health and how to keep kidneys healthy. Next are a few golden rules for keeping kidneys healthy.
1. Keep Yourself Active and Fit
Committing yourself to regular physical activity is key to maintaining fitness. Moderate activity or daily exercise will keep your blood pressure under control. It also reduces your weight if you have pounds to lose.
Improving blood pressure and weight reduces your risk of developing chronic kidney disease. Though, overexerting yourself can place a burden on your kidneys. You should be mindful of this, especially if have multiple risk factors.
2. Get In All Your Fluids
The standard rule of thumb is to drink 1.5-2 liters of water daily. Water helps the kidneys eliminate wastes from your blood in the form of urine. This helps maintain your body temperature as well.
It also keeps your blood vessels open. This allows the blood to travel with ease to your kidneys. There, the blood delivers essential nutrients.
Water flushes out infections and any stone-forming crystals that may be present. The amount of fluid you should consume depends on your age and the climate in which you live.
It also depends on the level of exercise you do along with any other health conditions you may have. Finally, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you typically need more fluid than others your age.
If you have a history of kidney stones, you should drink 2-3 liters of water per day to lower the risk of developing a new kidney stone.
3. Eat a Healthy Diet and Check Your Weight
Most kidney diseases stem from other medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. Both conditions have a direct connection to your eating habits. The best way to address all these conditions is to follow a healthy diet.
Proper nutrition helps control both your weight and high blood pressure. Also, reduce your salt intake to help prevent diabetes as well as heart diseases, which are associated with CKD.
4. Monitor Your Blood Pressure
Many people know that high blood pressure is a major reason for strokes and heart attacks. Though, many people don't see that it also leads to kidney diseases.
Normal blood pressure is from 120/80 to 139/89. Though, at this level, you do need to make dietary changes.
If your blood pressure is above 140/90, you should seek medical guidance. You must now monitor your blood pressure on a regular basis. Doing so will help you avoid damaging your kidneys, among other things.
5. Stop Smoking and Improve Renal Health
Smoking tobacco damages your blood vessels. The result is decreased blood flow to the kidneys.
Inadequate blood flow in the kidneys results in reduced function. It also increases your risk of high blood pressure and certain cancers of the kidney.
6. Keep Your Blood Sugar Under Control
Uncontrolled blood sugar and diabetes increase the likelihood of kidney damage. Most of the time, kidney problems can be prevented if they are detected early.
An essential tool for accomplishing this is to go for your regular checkups. Your physician will monitor your blood sugar as part of routine bloodwork.
7. Do Not Take Over-the-Counter-Medications Too Often
Some non-prescription medicines can cause kidney damage if you take them for a long time. One such medication is ibuprofen.
If you have arthritis or another form of chronic pain or, see your doctor before taking over-the-counter painkillers. Your physician can prescribe the best course of treatment for managing your pain that won't put your kidneys at risk.
8. Get Your Kidneys Screened Regularly
If you have high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, or excess weight, your doctor will check for any kidney dysfunction as part of your routine care. Understand your risks.
In addition to the risks listed above, your risks are higher if you have parents or additional family who have kidney disease. Also, people from Asian, African, or Aboriginal origin have a higher risk for kidney disease than other ethnicities.
Kidneys Are the Body's Filters
Kidneys are your body's natural filters. They remove toxins and keep you healthy. So, you should do your part to maintain healthy kidney function and overall renal health.
Your doctor may have suggested home monitoring equipment to help you monitor blood pressure and blood sugar. Please contact us if we can assist you in selecting the right monitor for you.
Chronic Kidney Disease in the United States Statistics
Diabetes - A Major Risk Factor for Kidney Disease