Kidneys-what they do and how to take care of them
The kidneys are complicated and amazing organs that do many essential tasks to keep us healthy.
850 million people worldwide are now estimated to have kidney diseases from various causes. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) causes at least 2.4 million deaths per year and is now the 6th fastest growing cause of death.
March 14th marks World Kidney Day, and the theme for this year is “Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere”.
So, what do kidneys do anyway?
The main job of your kidneys is to remove toxins and excess water from your blood. Kidneys also help to control your blood pressure, to produce red blood cells and to keep your bones healthy.
Your kidneys control blood stream levels of many minerals and molecules including sodium and potassium and help to control blood acidity. Every day your kidneys carefully control the salt and water in your body so that your blood pressure remains the same.
Did you know? Your Kidneys:
Remove wastes and extra fluid from your blood
Control your body’s chemical balance
Help control your blood pressure
Help keep your bones healthy
Help you make red blood cells
How to take care of your kidneys:
Kidney diseases are silent killers, which will largely affect your quality of life. There are however several easy ways to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease.
Keep fit and active
By keeping fit you can help to reduce your blood pressure and therefore reduce the risk of Chronic Kidney Disease.
Control your blood sugar level
About 50% of people who have diabetes develop kidney damage, so it is important for people with diabetes to have regular tests to check their kidney functions. Kidney damage from diabetes can be reduced or prevented if detected early. It is important to keep control of blood sugar levels with the help of your GP who is here to help.
Monitor your blood pressure
Although many people may be aware that high blood pressure can lead to a stroke or heart attack, few know that it is also the most common cause of kidney damage. You should discuss the risks with your doctor and monitor your blood pressure level regularly.
Eat well and keep your weight in check
Eating a healthy and balanced diet and keeping your weight under control can also help prevent diabetes, heart disease and other conditions associated with Chronic Kidney Disease. Minimising your salt intake is another good way to look after your kidneys.
Drink enough H20
Consuming plenty of fluid helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins from the body which, in turn, results in a lower risk of developing chronic kidney disease. It’s important to keep in mind that the right level of fluid intake for any individual depends on many factors including gender, exercise, climate, health conditions, pregnancy and breast feeding. In addition, people who have already had a kidney stone are advised to drink 2 to 3 litres of water daily to lessen the risk of forming a new stone. Please seek GP review prior to increasing fluids if you have a cardiac condition or are on fluid restrictions.
Smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. When less blood reaches the kidneys, it impairs their ability to function properly. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by about 50 percent.
Go to your doctor
It is advised to visit your GP and get your kidney function checked if you have one or more ‘high risk’ factors i.e. if you have diabetes, hypertension or obesity. Also, if you are of African, Asian, or Aboriginal origin or one of your parents or other family members suffers from kidney disease.
Be kind to your kidneys, and if you have any concerns please see your doctor.