Are You Taking Care of Your Kidneys?

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Are You Taking Care of Your Kidneys?

World Kidney Health day is celebrated every year on the second Thursday of March. It is a joint initiative of the International Society of Nephrology, and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations. This day is celebrated to create more awareness amongst the population to take care of their kidneys, and reduce the impact of kidney diseases on the quality of life worldwide.

Statistics show that around 800 per million people in India suffer from kidney disease, but this data is still underestimated. Many people do not know they have kidney disorders, until they reach the stage where they can barely do much. That is why kidney diseases are known as the “silent killer’.

What does the kidney do?

Kidneys are bean-shaped organs located at the back of your abdomen (one on each side). These small structures have a huge role to play, like:

  1. Filter blood to remove waste, toxins, and excess fluids.
  2. Regulate salt, pH, and potassium levels in the body (electrolytes).
  3. Produce hormones to regulate blood pressure.
  4. Control the production of red blood cells.
  5. Support calcium absorption by activating vitamin D.

Who is at risk of getting kidney disease?

People suffering from any of the below-mentioned disorders can get kidney disease:

  1. Hypertension
  2. Diabetes
  3. Heart disease
  4. Obesity
  5. Genetic predisposition (If you have someone in your family who has kidney disease, chances could be high here.)

What are the symptoms of kidney disease?

There are no confirmative signs of a kidney disorder, until the disease becomes severe. Confirmative diagnosis can only be made via scans, blood, and urine test (checking levels of creatinine in blood and protein loss in the urine).

Few early warning signs include:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Difficulty concentrating
  3. Muscle cramps
  4. Swollen feet or ankles
  5. Dry, scaly skin

(Please note that these signs are not specific to kidney disease. They can be due to any other underlying condition as well. It is advisable to get yourself examined by a professional before concluding anything).

How can you keep your kidneys in good shape?

Below mentioned are few tips to keep your kidneys and your overall health in good shape:

  1. Keep a check on your blood pressure. Work on it to keep it below 140/90 mm Hg.
  2. Keep a check on your blood sugar levels, and maintain them within range.
  3. Stay as active as possible. Being sedentary will not help maintain your blood sugar, and blood pressure levels in the required range.
  4. If you are overweight or obese, work on your lifestyle, and lose unhealthy fat.
  5. Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet. Avoid eating refined, junk, and processed foods.
  6. If you are a smoker, it is advisable to quit smoking, as it worsens kidney health, and also interferes with blood pressure medications.
  7. Take care of your fluid intake. Drink a sufficient amount of fluids in a day.
  8. Take the medicines prescribed by your doctor. Avoid self-medication, or taking over-the-counter painkillers, and anti-inflammatory drugs.
  9. Get your complete health checkup done once every year, if you are above the age of 35 years.

Points to ponder:

  • Listen to your body, and work on the signals it is giving you. Diabetes and hypertension are the two high-risk factors of getting kidney disease. Both of these are lifestyle disorders. If you correct your lifestyle, you can prevent damage to your organs (heart, pancreas, kidneys).
  • Kidney disorders do not show any symptoms, until the damage is severe, but we need to work on all the four pillars of lifestyle – Balanced Nutrition, Adequate Exercise, Quality Sleep, and Emotional Detox. Also, get regular health checkups done.
  • If you have kidney disease, make sure you are taking all the precautions advised by your doctor, and following your dietitian’s nutrition advice.

Disclaimer: None of the information mentioned above is a replacement for the advice given by your doctor or health care provider.

Also read: The Ugly Truth About Diabetes, High Blood Pressure and Kidney Disease.

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