Few things are as important as your health and to ensure your body remains in tip top condition, take good care of all your organs, your kidney in particular. This is especially so because your kidney’s functions influence nearly every aspect of your wellbeing. But are you aware of the causes of kidney disease, or of any dangerous symptoms you should keep an eye out for?
If you don’t keep aware of what goes on within your body, you may not even realise that you have a renal health problem until it is too late. Here is what you need to know about the causes and symptoms of kidney disease, along with treatment options to be considered if you do experience any of them!
What is Kidney Disease?
Kidney disease can refer to any one of many conditions which prevent the kidneys from performing optimally, or even at all. This can include uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, polycystic kidney disease or other diseases either associated with, or directly affecting the kidneys.
For instance, a condition known as chronic glomerulonephritis is an inflammation of the kidneys which can lead to the scarring of tiny filters within it.
Additionally, when left unchecked and untreated, most kidney disease might even snowball into a bigger issue. An example of which would be renal failure. Thus, it is vital that you take any symptoms or abnormalities seriously!
What if Kidney Disease goes Unnoticed?
Unfortunately, 82% of patients on organ transplant waiting lists are kidney patients, and of those, it takes an average of between 3-5 years for a match from a deceased donor.
So clearly, bypassing signs of kidney ailment and risking renal failure can be a recipe for disaster!
True, there is dialysis, which is the removal of waste, salts and excess fluids from the blood using external filtering. However, this is only necessary in extremely dire cases involving extreme performance reduction, or failure of the kidneys (usually about 85-90% of lost function).
Additionally, dialysis is used as a temporary means of filtering the blood, and it also usually takes around 4 hours per session and needs to be performed about 3 times per week.
Are There any Signs of Renal Disease to be Aware of?
Unfortunately, you may not notice any signs of kidney disease until it is too late, and even then, you may not even consider these symptoms anything to worry about.
But if you experience any of the following conditions—particularly for an extended period of time—you may need to visit your doctor to test for key renal biomarkers:
- You always feel cold or tired
- Your urine is constantly foamy, though not just due to the velocity of urination
- There are traces of blood in your urine
- Your experience frequent urination, particularly at night
- You experience swelling of the hands, feet, ankles and/or legs
- Feelings of nausea
- An odd, metallic taste in your mouth, have bad breath, or a lack of desire to consume meat
- Chronic itching
- Pain in the kidneys, which may feel like back pain
- Shortness of breath
There are other symptoms, although again, your best defense is to go for regular checkups, since waiting for symptoms to show may mean that you have waited for too long!
What Can be Done to Prevent Kidney Disease?
The best things you can do for your kidneys is to drink plenty of water daily and avoid consuming salt, tobacco or alcohol.
In fact, sticking to a diet of leafy greens and healthy, whole foods low in salt and sugar is not only best for your kidneys, but also for your overall health.
Additionally, it is advised that you include exercise in your daily routine, and that you get adequate sleep, along with regular monitoring and management of your blood pressure.
You should also avoid the consumption of tobacco, as well as excessively drinking. If you are having trouble adhering to these life changes, you may want to consider opting for outside help, such as a life coach to help get you through smoking withdrawals, or a support group to “lean on” in order to help you curb any bad habits or stop an addiction.
Finally, in addition to an annual checkup, you should see your doctor for any of the above symptoms—whether you feel it is necessary or not.
No, you can’t just grow a new kidney if you ruin the old one. Yes, you may be able to tide by on dialysis while you wait for up to half a decade for a new kidney. However, not only can a new kidney be a tough match for some rare blood types, but new organs can also be rejected by your body. Plus, is having 12 hours of dialysis performed each week really living? We think not. So, in the interest of your health and wellbeing, be kind to your kidneys—the alternative isn’t worth it!
If you’re interested in learning more about kidney disease and how it affects your body, read on more about it in our biomarker post here!