Kidney Diseases Symptoms and Prevention

The kidneys are bean-shaped organs that perform very essential regulatory roles in a human body. They remove excess organic molecules from the blood, and waste products of metabolism. Kidneys are essential to the urinary system and also serve homeostatic functions such as the regulation of electrolytes, maintenance of acid–base balance, and regulation of blood pressure (by maintaining salt & water balance). They serve the body as a natural filter of the blood, and remove water-soluble wastes which are diverted to the bladder. In producing urine, the kidneys excrete wastes such as urea and ammonium. They are also responsible for the reabsorption of water, glucose, and amino acids. The kidneys also produce hormones including calcitriol and erythropoietin.

In today’s fast paced world with ever changing lifestyle(sedentary), millions of people are under threat of chronic kidney disease, many of these people are not aware they have the condition. This is because there are little or no symptoms until the disease is quite advanced and can often come as a shock to those who are first diagnosed. Kidney disease affects anyone at any age although certain factors may mean one is at a greater risk of developing the illness. Therefore kidneys are vital to our overall health, so it’s important to look after them.

Main Kidney Diseases include: 

  • Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
  • Acute Renal Failure
  • Kidney Stones
  • Parathyroid hormone (PTH) 

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Healthy kidneys function to remove extra water and wastes, help control blood pressure, keep body chemicals in balance, keep bones strong, tells body to make red blood cells and help children grow normally. Chronic disease occurs when kidneys are no longer able to clean toxins and waste product from the blood and perform their functions to full capacity. This can happen all of a sudden or over time.

Acute Renal Failure

Acute renal failure means the kidneys have failed suddenly, often due to a toxin or poison, severe blood loss or trauma. Dialysis is used to clean the blood and give the kidneys a rest. If the cause is treated, the kidneys may be able to recover some or all of their function.

Kidney Stones

A kidney stone occurs when substances in the urine form crystals. Kidney stones can be large or small. Large ones can damage the kidneys; small ones may be able to pass in the urine. Because crystals have sharp edges, passing even small stones can be very painful. Treatment depends on what the stones are made of.

Parathyroid Hormone (PTH)

Parathyroid hormone (PTH) is produced by several small, bean-like parathyroid glands in neck. Its “job” is to tell bones to release calcium into bloodstream. Too much PTH can become a problem in people with kidney disease.

Healthy kidneys convert a hormone called calcitriol to its active form of vitamin D. Calcitriol lets body absorb calcium from food. When kidneys are not working well, they start to make less calcitriol-so even if one eat calcium, body can’t absorb it. PTH kicks in to make sure one always have enough calcium in your blood. Over time, this can weaken bones. A blood test can show if PTH levels are above normal. If they are, doctor may prescribe a form of active vitamin D.

What are the symptoms of kidney diseases?

Symptoms may include:

  • Changes in urination  making more or less urine than usual, feeling pressure when urinating, changes in the color of urine, foamy or bubbly urine, or having to get up at night to urinate.
  • Swelling of the feet, ankles, hands, or face  fluid the kidneys can’t remove may stay in the tissues causing the inflammation in that body part.
  • Fatigue or weakness  a build-up of wastes or a shortage of red blood can cause these problems when the kidneys begin to fail.
  • Shortness of breath  Kidney failure is sometimes confused with asthma or heart failure, because fluid can build up in the lungs.
  • Ammonia breath or an ammonia or metal taste in the mouth – waste build-up in the body can cause bad breath, changes in taste, or an aversion to protein foods.
  • Back or flank pain  the kidneys are located on either side of the spine in the back. So, kidney disease can cause back pain.
  • Itching  waste build-up in the body can cause severe itching, especially of the legs.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting

What Preventive measures can be taken to avoid these diseases?

The Prevention may include:

  • Hydrate  But don’t overdo it. While it’s always a good idea to drink enough water, drinking more than the typical four to six glasses a day probably won’t help kidneys do their job any better.
  • Eat healthy foods – Kidneys can tolerate a wide range of dietary habits, but most kidney problems arise out of other medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. Because of this, one must follow healthy, moderate eating habits to control weight and blood pressure. Preventing diabetes and high blood pressure will help keep kidneys in good condition.
  • Exercise regularly – If you’re healthy, getting exercise is a good idea because, like healthy eating habits, regular physical activity can stave off weight gain and high blood pressure. But do be mindful of how much exercise you do, especially if you’re not conditioned. “Overexerting yourself when you’re not fit and healthy can put a strain on kidneys, especially if one exercise so much that may cause excessive breakdown of muscle tissue.
  • Use caution with supplements and herbal remedies –Excessive amounts of certain vitamin supplements and some herbal extracts may be harmful to the kidneys. Take doctor’s advice about any vitamins and herbs you plan to take.
  • Quit smoking – Smoking can damage blood vessels, which decreases the flow of blood in the kidneys. When the kidneys don’t have adequate blood flow, they can’t function at optimal levels. Smoking also increases the risk of high blood pressure as well as the risk of kidney cancer.
  • Don’t take over medications – Common non-prescription pills can cause kidney damage if taken too regularly over a prolonged period. One should talk to your doctor about monitoring your kidney function or finding alternative ways to control pain.

Remember, “A healthy outside, starts from the inside”.