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8 Golden Rules You Must Follow to Keep Your Kidneys Healthy

  • Early detection of kidney injury can prevent the progression of the disease and thus can avoid the morbidity and mortality associated with the advanced stages of chronic kidney disease

Kidneys are one of the vital organs of the body which are two in number and are located on either side of the spine at the bottom of your rib cage. Kidneys help to filter the blood and eliminate the waste products, regulate fluid, electrolytes and acid-base balance of the body along with maintaining the haemoglobin level and bone health through their endocrine functions.

Kidney disease happens in two ways – acute kidney injury, and chronic kidney injury. Acute kidney injury which happens over a period of days to weeks is caused by dehydration due to excessive vomiting or diarrhoea, drug-induced secondary to painkillers and certain antibiotics, inflammation in the kidneys, infections localized to kidneys or systemic infections, obstruction to the urinary tract due to stones, enlarged prostate gland.

Chronic kidney disease which happens over weeks to months is usually secondary to Diabetes mellitus, Hypertension, Chronic inflammation in the kidneys, recurrent kidney infection, and hereditary kidney diseases like Polycystic kidney disease, and Alport’s syndrome.

Chronic kidney disease is one of the major non-communicable diseases of public health importance due to its high burden and high cost of treatment in the advanced stages, Global burden of disease study in 2017 estimated that the global prevalence of Chronic kidney disease is 9.1 per cent and it affects almost around 850 million people worldwide. Chronic kidney disease is currently the 12th most common reason for death and with growing numbers of diabetic people, it is expected to be the 5th most common cause of death by 2040.

Chronic kidney disease patients do not have any symptoms in the early stages. Most of the patients are asymptomatic until 90 per cent of their kidney functions are lost.

Early detection of kidney injury can prevent the progression of the disease and thus can avoid the morbidity and mortality associated with the advanced stages of chronic kidney disease, conducting the screening tests at regular intervals.

People who are at risk for the development of chronic kidney disease are those with – Diabetes Mellitus, Hypertension, Obesity, Family history of kidney disease, age > 50years, and People belonging to African, Hispanic, Aboriginal and Asian origin.

8 golden rules to keep your kidneys safe and healthy are:

  1. Keep Active and fit: Regular physical activity, be it walking, running, cycling or even dancing are great for your general health. This helps to reduce your blood pressure and boost heart health, both of which are important to maintaining kidney health and reducing the risk of chronic kidney disease.
  2. Control of blood sugars: Diabetic patients may develop kidney damage if they have uncontrolled blood sugars. The kidneys of these patients are forced to work extra hard to filter their blood, which if carried on over years can lead to irreversible damage to the kidneys. If the sugars are controlled and kept in the range, the risk of kidney damage is reduced. If the kidney damage is identified in the early stages by screening methods, your doctor can prescribe you medications which can prevent or reduce additional damage to the kidneys.
  3. Control of blood pressure: High blood pressure, just like diabetes can cause chronic kidney damage. If your blood pressure is consistently above 140/90mm Hg, you have hypertension. You should practice lifestyle modifications like reducing salt intake, regular exercise, and relaxation techniques and consult your doctor regarding the requirement of medications to keep the blood pressure under control.
  4. Eat healthy and keep your weight in check: People who are obese are at higher risk for developing a number of health conditions including heart and kidney diseases. A healthy diet that is low in sodium, processed food and red meat helps in reducing the risk of kidney damage. Fresh fruits and vegetables along with whole grains should be a must in your diet.
  5. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluid especially if you are working outdoors and in summers. Regular drinking of water keeps you hydrated and helps your kidneys to remove excess sodium and waste products from your body. Drink at least 8 glasses of water, which amounts to 1.5-2.0 litres of water in a day.
  6. Do not smoke: Smoking tobacco damages the blood vessels leading to atherosclerosis. This leads to reduced blood flow through the kidneys increasing the risk for kidney disease.
  7. Do not take over the counter (OTC) pills: Especially pain killers which belong to the class of NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs) like Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Mefenamic acid, Diclofenac, Aceclofenac., has to be avoided. These medications can damage your kidneys if taken regularly.
  8. Have your kidney functions tested if you are at risk of developing chronic kidney disease: Conducting the screening tests at regular intervals for those with – Diabetes Mellitus, Hypertension, Obesity, Family history of kidney disease, age > 50years, people belonging to African, Hispanic, Aboriginal and Asian origin.

(Dr Hari Prasad A, Consultant Nephrology, Kauvery Hospitals Electronic City (Bangalore).

First published in,

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