The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports over 140,000 people die from excessive alcohol use in the country each year. That’s 1 in 8 deaths among adults aged 20 to 64 years old, or more than 380 deaths per day. And with the growing market for alcohol processed for casual consumption, these numbers are quite alarming.
This National Kidney Month, what better way to take an important step towards protecting your kidney and promoting better health than knowing the signs and symptoms of kidney problems so you can seek treatment right away, if needed.
Importance of kidney health and function
Your kidneys are vital organs that play an important role in keeping your body healthy. Kidneys filter out or remove waste and extra fluid from your blood, help maintain the balance of electrolytes like sodium, potassium and phosphorus in your body, and produce hormones that regulate blood pressure and make red blood cells. It’s easy to take them for granted until they stop functioning properly.
Signs and symptoms of kidney problems
There are a few signs and symptoms that may indicate that you have a kidney problem. These include:
- Swelling in your ankles, feet, or legs
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue or feeling tired all the time
- Difficulty sleeping
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain in your side or back (under your ribs)
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Foamy or bloody urine
- High blood pressure that is difficult to control
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor right away. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent serious health complications.
Risk factors for poor kidney health
There are a number of different factors that can increase your risk for poor kidney health. These include:
- Diabetes mellitus: This is a condition in which there is too much sugar (glucose) in the blood. Over time, diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in the kidneys, making them less able to filter waste properly.
- High blood pressure: This occurs when the force of blood against the vessel walls is too high. High blood pressure can damage the delicate filters in the kidneys, making them less able to do their job properly.
- Family history: If you have a family member with kidney disease, you may be at increased risk for developing the condition yourself.
- Age: As we age, our kidneys may not function as well as they once did. This decline in kidney function can lead to an increased risk for kidney disease.
- Obesity: People who are obese have an increased risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, both of which can damage the kidneys. obesity can also put extra strain on the kidneys themselves, leading to damage.
How to improve your kidney health
There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk for poor kidney health or keep your kidneys healthy if you already have kidney disease. These include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight: This will help to reduce your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, and other conditions that can damage your kidneys.
- Exercising regularly: Exercise helps to control weight, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure—all of which are important for maintaining healthy kidneys.
- Eating a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help to control weight, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure—all of which are important for maintaining healthy kidneys.
- Quitting smoking or using other tobacco products: Smoking and using other tobacco products can damage the small blood vessels in the kidneys, leading to kidney disease.
- Limiting alcohol intake: Excessive alcohol use can damage the kidneys, so it’s important to limit your alcohol intake.
- Getting regular checkups: Regular check-ups and urine tests with your doctor can help to identify any early stage signs of kidney disease and allow for early treatment.
- Drinking plenty of fluids: Drinking plenty of fluids helps to flush waste and toxins from the body, protecting your kidneys from damage.
Dietary changes to keep your kidneys functioning well
In addition to the lifestyle modifications mentioned above, there are some specific dietary changes you can make to help keep your kidneys functioning properly. These include:
- Reducing sodium intake: Eating a low-sodium diet can help reduce high blood pressure, which is one of the main risk factors for kidney stones and kidney disease.
- Limiting processed foods: These often contain a lot of added sugar and sodium, which can be harmful to your kidneys.
- Eating more fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants and other nutrients that help keep the kidneys functioning properly.
- Limiting animal proteins: Animal proteins like red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products can increase your risk for kidney damage.
- Eating more plant proteins: Plant-based proteins like beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds are a healthier option than animal proteins and can help to protect the kidneys from damage.
By making these simple dietary changes, you can help keep your kidneys functioning properly and reduce your risk for kidney disease.
Toxins and medications to avoid
Additionally, it’s important to avoid certain toxins that can damage your kidneys. Examples of these include:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Cigarette smoking or using other tobacco products
- Certain medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antibiotics, and chemotherapy drugs
- Exposure to certain chemicals, such as cadmium, mercury, and lead
It’s also important to talk to your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications or supplements as some of these can have adverse effects on the kidneys.
Protect your kidneys
Don’t wait until it’s too late – know your risk and protect yourself with Nao Medical. Visit us today to check for kidney disease, receive a personalized treatment or monitoring plan tailored to you, and get the peace of mind that comes from knowing what steps you need to take to achieve optimal health.