You might know a lot about heart health, lung health, or even brain health, but kidneys aren’t usually considered the same kind of hot health topic. But well-functioning kidneys are vital for human life.
As part of National Kidney Month, we’re taking the opportunity to emphasize how kidneys do an awesome job at keeping us alive, and how we can all build a path to better kidney care.
What do the kidneys do?
Most people are born with two kidneys: one on each side of the waist. Often described as “bean-shaped” organs, your kidneys help your body turn waste into urine, while also filtering toxins from your blood.
The key function of kidneys is to maintain your body’s fluid balance. They are the reason you urinate the correct amount, and have enough purified blood in your veins. Experts in knowing what is supposed to be in your body and what isn’t, your kidneys also work to remove any waste material from food, drugs or other toxic substances.
Kidneys also regulate the proper combination of water, and minerals like sodium and potassium, that are present in your blood. By purifying and balancing your blood, kidneys also help you maintain a healthy blood pressure.
What are the dangers and symptoms of kidney disease?
If one of your kidneys is damaged by injury or an autoimmune disease, doesn’t receive adequate blood circulation, or suffers a urine block (often due to kidney stones or an enlarged prostate), kidney disease may develop. This disease becomes chronic if and when your kidneys are unable to function for a period longer than three months.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, 76% of kidney failure is due to either diabetes or high blood pressure. Cardiovascular or immune diseases (such as lupus) may also be the culprit. Obesity, a family history of kidney disease, an abnormal kidney structure, or frequent usage of kidney-damaging medications can also put you at a higher risk.
Without at least one properly functioning kidney, toxic waste can build up in the body. This can contribute to heart disease, stroke, anemia, diminished bone strength, and nerve damage. Left untreated, kidney failure can be life-threatening.
In many cases, you may not experience any negative symptoms until kidney disease has progressed. It’s important to pay attention to your body and visit a doctor if you are experiencing:
- High blood pressure
- Tasting iron in your mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of strength
- Trouble thinking
- Trouble sleeping
Though currently without a cure, kidney disease can often be treated with prescription medicine paired with lifestyle changes, like reducing sodium intake, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol, and increasing physical activity. In the case of kidney failure, dialysis or a kidney transplant may also be considered.
How can I take care of my kidneys?
Preventative care is crucial for kidney health. To actively thank your kidneys for keeping your body balanced, try to maintain a blood pressure below 140/90. Also be sure to stay within the bounds of your recommended amount of cholesterol, limit the amount of salt you consume, eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables, and exercise at least 150 minutes a week.
Regular testing may also be in your favor. When monitored with a urine or blood test at your annual physical exam, kidney disease can be diagnosed early, and therefore treated more effectively.
If you’re concerned about kidney disease, or would like help in taking care of your kidney (and whole body) health, you can reach out to our team at LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early through our website or by calling 229-723-4241.
Learn More About LifeBrite
Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, and Lifebrite Laboratories. For more about our specific services and facilities, visit our website or call 229-723-4241.