The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that maintain the balance of several internal processes and functions by controlling the absorption and excretion of substances out of the body.
In the kidneys, most of the water, ions, and nutrients are returned to the body while waste products and excess ions are excreted via the ureters through urine, which can be excreted at a rate of 1 to 1.5 liters per day.
Why is So Important to Maintain the Kidney’s Health?
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) constitutes a major problem in Asiatic countries like China, Mongolia, Singapore, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka. The progression of CKD to complete renal failure is denominated end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), which is a condition that requires dialysis or even kidney transplantation in many cases.
Malaysia, for instance, has one of the world’s greatest rates of ESKD caused by type 2 diabetes mellitus. In Sri Lanka (G. Priyadarshana) there is a high prevalence of chronic interstitial disease, being CKD the first cause of in-hospital deaths in Anuradhapura. On the other hand, Mongolia (K. Gelegjamts) has kidney and urinary tract infections (UTIs) as the third most common causes of disease in the population.
What Diseases Can Damage Your Kidneys?
High blood pressure and type 2 diabetes are the two leading causes of kidney damage and potential chronic kidney disease.
Other causes of kidney damage include upper urinary tract infections, kidney stones, dehydration, and tumors located in the urinary tract.
What Can You Do to Protect Your Kidneys?
Either if you are healthy or you suffer from any condition that may put you at risk for kidney damage, you can take care of your kidney’s health by adopting and maintaining certain dietary and lifestyle measures, such as:
- Eating healthier foods
Even though your kidneys can endure a wide range of dietary habits, long-term intake of unhealthy processed foods can result in diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure, conditions known to cause direct damage to the kidneys.
- Limiting your dietary sugar and salt intake
High intake of sodium (salt) can lead to high blood pressure, and high sugar intake may result in diabetes mellitus, which are the two leading causes of chronic kidney disease.
- Exercising regularly
Exercise helps maintain a healthy weight while also helps lower high blood pressure.
- Avoid smoking
It has been proved that smoking can reduce blood flow to the kidneys; therefore, impairing the kidney’s capacity to function properly. Even more, high blood pressure risk is increased in persons who smoke.
- Be careful when taking supplements and herbal remedies
Excessive amounts of weight-reducing supplements such as protein powder, as well as certain kinds of herbal extracts or vitamin supplements, might be harmful to your kidneys; therefore you should always consult with a healthcare professional to make sure you are on the clear to take them.
- Limiting your intake of over-the-counter drugs
Some medications known as NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin) are related to kidney damage when taken in high doses over a prolonged period.
Your kidneys won’t be able to properly function if there is not enough liquid for them to filter and excrete the substances that your body doesn’t need. Usually, 6 to 8 glasses of water per day will keep you hydrated.
- Get regular kidney function screening
If you are elderly, or have conditions like high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes, you should regularly consult with your doctor to make sure your kidneys are working normally.
Why is Water Important For Your Kidney’s Health?
Dehydration can cause a condition known as acute kidney injury which is a rapid deterioration of kidney function that, if left untreated, can lead to dialysis, kidney transplantation, or even death.
Make sure to drink plenty of water, at least 6-8 glasses per day. During hot weather or when exercising you should drink more water to replace the fluids lost while sweating.
What Tests Are Available to Know Whether You Have Healthy Kidneys?
A urinalysis test serves a screening tool rather than a diagnosis tool. It is normally used as an initial test to direct your doctor towards which other tests to order so that a final diagnosis can be reached.
A urinalysis by dipstick test is performed on a urine sample when a quick result (2 minutes) is needed. This test is done by using a paper or plastic strip that has up to 10 different chemical pads that change colour when in contact with urine. The resulting colours in the strip are then compared to the corresponding colour chart which is labeled on the dipstick bottle.
A urinalysis by microscopy is usually performed in a laboratory by a skilled operator. It is an accurate urine analysis method; however, it can take hours or even days to get the result.
When needed, other tests can be performed to diagnose diseases or conditions that affect the urinary system. These tests can include:
– Urine culture and sensitivity (C & S): used when a urinalysis result is abnormal, and there is a suspicion of urinary tract infection. When positive, this test can also determine which drugs are more effective against the microorganism that is causing your infection.
– Creatinine: high creatinine levels in your blood are indicative of impaired renal function.
– Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate: a decreased rate is indicative of kidney disease.
– Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN): BUN levels must be correlated with plasma creatinine to suggest kidney disease.
You should start taking preventive measures to protect your kidneys, even more, if you suffer from any condition that put you at risk of kidney damage. Small, progressive changes can make a big difference when it comes to improving your health.
Usually, a urinalysis is the first step to assess your urinary system overall health, and your doctor can use its results as a guide to ordering further tests to diagnose the cause of any showing abnormality.
If you’re interested in learning more about urinalysis and what it can show about your health, read on more about it in our biomarker post here!
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