Kidneys are responsible for several vital functions in our body. These tiny bean shaped organs are responsible for cleaning of blood, maintaining the body's fluid balance, regulating blood pressure and for stimulating the production of red blood cells.
Kidney disease is a silent illness as it does not show any external signs of the damage occuring inside. Our kidneys are affected by malfunctioning of other body organs and by our own wrongdoings such as faulty lifestyle, alcohol overuse, smoking etc. Learn more about your kidneys at What is Kidney?
Untreated kidney disorders can cause Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) or Kidney failure (renal failure). This article has been created with the aim of apprising our readers with symptoms of kidney malfunction and the common causes that contribute to poor kidney function.
Symptoms of Poor Kidney Function
When the kidneys are not functioning as well as they should, the body's fluid and waste product can get out of balance, manifesting as one or more of the following symptoms. Do note that many of these symptoms are generic signs and may be caused by other health conditions as well.
- Weakness and lethargy
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Abnormal heart beat
- Increased urination at night
- Edema (water retention) in legs
- Puffiness around eyes
- Bone pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Decreased interest in sex
- Erectile dysfunction
- Blood in urine
- Pain and burning feeling while passing urine
Causes of Poor Kidney Function
A widely spread lifestyle disease - Diabetes can cause several other disorders in our body. Kidney disorder caused by diabetes is known as Diabetic Nephropathy. Diabetes creates hindrance in the waste filtration process of kidneys which result in leakage of useful substances such as proteins along with waste products out of our body via urine. Diabetes declines kidneys’ ability to filter waste products which in turn gets accumulated in blood causing other ill effects. Kidneys’ conditions caused by diabetes can be life threatening.
High Blood pressure
High blood pressure and diabetes are the root cause of several other diseases so controlling these two can make our life a bit easier and healthier. High blood pressure adversely affects blood vessels of whole body including the ones present in kidneys. The damage to the kidney’s blood vessels can impact waste and extra fluid removal ability of kidneys and can cause severe aftereffects and in extreme cases can lead to kidney failure.
Dehydration or Blood loss
Dehydration caused either by less fluid intake, vomiting, diarrhea or any other reason can harm kidneys. It is one of the reasons behind kidney stones formation. Chronic dehydration can lower the blood pressure of our body and affect all most all of the vital organs including kidneys. Just like dehydration, severe blood loss due to any injury can damage kidneys.
Most of us are aware of alcohol’s bad effects on liver, but excessive alcohol consumption can adversely affects kidneys as well. Alcohol disturbs body’s fluid balance by increasing urine volume. Chronic alcohol consumption can also be blamed for imbalance of nutrients such as calcium, phosphate, potassium and sodium in human body which are required by our body for basic functioning.
Generally people think that smoking is not associated with bad kidneys, but this is not true. Smoking elevates renal health risks by raising blood pressure which can impact kidney health as discussed above. In diabetic patients, smoking can cause of leaking of albumin (a kind of protein) into the urine which can damage kidneys.
Inactive lifestyle can raise your blood pressure which can damage kidneys. Active lifestyle where you take out some time for exercise or yoga can help in your overall health improvement which in turn can keep you away from medicines and several toxicity caused by these medicines. All organs will be happy with active life, balanced diet and lesser drugs.
Living a kidney friendly life - Guidelines for Healthy Kidneys
Below are a few recommendations to keep your kidneys happy and healthy-
- Eat healthy and balanced food, a key for overall good health.
- Drink water when thirsty and avoid sugary drinks. Caffeinated drinks leave the body dehydrated.
- For healthy kidneys, keep your blood pressure within recommended range.
- Avoid frequent intake of over the counter pills for headaches, stomach pain, fever etc. Resort to natural remedies for common ailments.
- Tobacco smoke is poison for your kidneys. Avoid smoking or being around people when they smoke.
- Diabetes increases the risk of kidney failure, so keep your blood sugar levels in control.
- Alcohol may be good in small quantities, reduce consumption to nil or minimum.
- Lose weight to keep your kidneys healthy.
- Physical activity of 30-40 minutes a day can keep you and your vital organs in good shape.