Many people receive a lot of misinformation related to kidney functionality and kidney diseases, and are therefore, not suitably aware of how this disease affects our lives. In this post we compare some of the most common myths surrounding kidney diseases and the actual facts about them.
Myth: Kidney disease is rare.
Fact: Kidney disease affects millions across the globe every year, and is quite common. Almost 10% of the world’s population suffers from Chronic Kidney Disease.
Myth: Kidney disease tests are expensive and cumbersome.
Fact: The diagnostic tests required to determine kidney disease are very simple and painless. One is a simple urine test which checks for protein in the urine, while the other is a blood test which checks for GFR (Glomerular Filtration Rate). Both are pretty affordable and accurate.
Myth: If there are no obvious discomforts like difficulty in passing urine, it means the kidneys are fine.
Fact: Kidney diseases don’t present any symptoms until they have progressed to very advanced stages. And hence, the lack of any external symptoms is no guarantee that a person doesn’t have a kidney disease; it should be thoroughly ruled out by conducting appropriate medical tests.
Myth: Kidney disease cannot be prevented for at-risk groups.
Fact: At-risk groups include those with high blood pressure, diabetes, family history of kidney failure, over 60 years of age, and people of Asian, Hispanic, American Indian, Pacific Islander and African-American ethnicities. However, not everyone who falls into these risk groups will develop a kidney disease. By following a healthy lifestyle including balanced diet, regular exercise to maintain weight, controlled blood pressure and blood sugar, and by quitting smoking, among other things, the kidneys can be kept healthy thereby reducing your chances of getting kidney disease.
Myth: Dialysis is the only treatment for kidney disease.
Fact: Dialysis is required by only those patients whose kidney disease has progressed to advanced stages or those who have kidney failure. Otherwise those patients whose disease is diagnosed in early stages usually require only diet modification, exercise and medication.
Myth: Dialysis is a painful and exhaustive process which restricts the patient from working or travelling.
Fact: The dialysis process by itself is painless, and generally the only discomfort caused is by the needles which are inserted in the graft or fistula. Certain patients may experience headaches, cramps, nausea, etc. but this can be avoided by taking proper diet and fluid restrictions. Also, the patients undergoing dialysis feel sufficiently fine to work or travel if they take proper care of themselves and follow the doctor’s advice correctly.
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Kidney Stone and Kidney Stone Surgery
At times a small Calcium Crystal Stone forms inside the part of the Kidney where the Urine is collected. The stones cause pain while urinating. The problem increases when Calcium Crystal Stones falls into the Ureter, a tube that drains the fluid from the Kidneys in to the bladder. There the stones prevent Urine from coming out of the Kidneys and causes severe pain.
Kidney removes waste from the body and filters the Blood to make Urine. The same Urine flows from the kidney into the bladder through the Ureter, a thin tube that connects the two. The Bladder empties through the Urethra, a tube much wider than the Ureter.
Urine from the Kidney excrete a variety of minerals and chemicals, when sometimes these minerals and chemicals combine to form stones. With the passage of time, the stones grow in size, sometimes almost an inch in diameter or even larger.
How are they formed?
The reason isn’t exactly known, but usually changes in the acid-base balance (pH) of the urine and the concentration of minerals and chemicals within the urine are all factors that can signify the formation of a stone. Concentrated urine often occurs during an episode of dehydration, setting the stage for the beginning of stone formation. The consequences of that stone, when it is large enough to cause an obstruction, may occur weeks, months, or years later.
A Kidney stone can infect the Kidney with Pyelonephritis, an inflammation of the renal parenchyma, calyces, and pelvis that is commonly caused by bacterial infection that can spread to the urinary tract or travel through the bloodstream to the kidneys.
When kidney stones pass from the urine collection system into the ureter, they can act like a dam preventing easy flow of urine from the kidney into the bladder. This causes urine to back up, increasing pressure and swelling within the kidney.
Pain in the process
Pain from the Kidney and as the stone passes through the Ureter, the pain increases. Kidney Pain is also known as renal colic Stone can be excruciating and its intensity is similar to that of pain experienced during a child birth. The pain starts from the lower back and radiates to the front of abdomen and in males, it may cause testicular or scrotal pain. It makes the individual totally uncomfortable. Kidney Stone has side effects like Nausea, Vomiting and Sweating.
If not treated the intense pain would be continuous and the pain would considerably increase. Once the stone is in the Bladder, the obstruction is relieved.
Passing of the stone
Since a Urethra is much larger in size than the Ureter, passing of the stone is an easy thing. It passes easily while Urinating and most patients cannot tell when they have eliminated the stone from their bladder.
The severity of the pain does not depend on the size of the stone, but it rather depends on the amount of obstruction and Kidney swelling. Many a times, when Kidney stone passes through the urine’s, a small amount of blood is visible.
In next article we will understand the symptoms and kidney stone surgery.
WHY ARE KIDNEYS IMPORTANT ?
Your Kidneys are responsible for five critical body functions
- Keeps the blood clean through filtration of the waste products and elimination of excessive fluids from the body in the form of urine
- Maintains proper balance of fluid in the body
- Secretes a hormone called Erythropoietin, responsible for stimulating the production of RBC (Red Blood Cells) in the Bone Marrow
- Produces an Enzyme called Renin, which helps maintain the body Blood Pressure
- Converts Vitamin D to its most active form
EFFECTS OF MODERN LIFESTYLE ON KIDNEYS
There is a general notion that all Kidney Diseases are rare and untreatable. This is far from the truth and with the progress in Science and Technology, most of the noted diseases can now be treated but modern lifestyle of a majority of people still negatively impacts people’s health which includes damage to the Kidneys. It is therefore important for everyone to be responsible and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
For Kidneys especially, bigger the load, faster they deteriorate. In this article, we focus on some simple but effective ways that can help a person minimize the stress on their Kidneys.
First of all let us look at some factors that puts considerable stress on Kidneys,
PRIMARY RISK FOR KIDNEY DISEASES
- High Diabetes,
- High Blood Pressure,
SECONDARY RISK FOR KIDNEY DISEASES
- Heart Disease
- Autoimmune Diseases;
- Urinary Tract Infections
- and Systemic Infections
STAGES OF KIDNEY DAMAGE
Stage 1: Slight Kidney damage
Stage 2: Mild decrease in Kidney function
Stage 3: Moderate decrease in Kidney function
Stage 4: Severe decrease in Kidney function
Stage 5: End-stage Renal Disease
TIPS FOR HEALTHY KIDNEY
Be active and eat healthy: Weight control is an important factor to control the Kidney Disease. A healthy routine and active lifestyle helps control the weight. Several studies indicate that Kidney malfunctions and Obesity are inter-related and an overweight person has double the chances of developing Kidney problems. Regular exercising with proper diet not only keeps a person fit, but also act as a preventive measure against Kidney disease.
Control BP and Diabetes: Cases of Kidney diseases as a secondary illness are getting more and more evident, especially with the people suffering from Diabetes and Hypertension. Such people should be extra careful regarding their health and take steps to control their blood sugar level to keep the Kidney disease at bay.
Reduce the salt intake: Excessive salt in the diet effects the body blood pressure. An increased blood pressure would put excessive amount of strain on Kidneys resulting in various Kidney disease. Hence once should control the excessive amount of salt intake in the body.
Smoking and Tobacco: Chewing Tobacco deteriorates the Kidneys. People who smoke a lot have higher chances of Heart Diseases. Both the factors combined to contribute towards harming the Kidneys. A Tobacco users and smokers should cut down the intake and slowly quite the practice.
Regular Screenings: There is a need to encourage patients suffering from Diabetes and Hypertension to undergo a systematic CKD screenings at regular intervals. People with Diabetes and high Blood Pressure have high risk of developing a CKD. Get your Kidneys screened regularly and know the disease in early stages.
People suffering from Chronic Kidney Diseases suffer from a very subtle symptoms which often go unnoticed. The time period between Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and Kidney failure is undetermined. It may take years and also may happen soon, depending on case-to-case basis. Kidney failures can be determined with early stage symptoms which are necessary to be identified. Let us discuss the symptoms of kidney failures:
• The beginning is often asymptomatic which means there would be a very less amount of visible symptoms but as the disease advances the kidneys would be unable to regulate water, balance the electrolytes, remove the waste from the body, and produce red blood cells. Such a person would often undergo Lethargic behavior, uneasiness, weakness, short of breath, and general swelling.
• The body would be unable to manufacture bicarbonate due to which the body acidity increases. It is known as metabolic acidosis. Such body dysfunction would alter the enzyme and oxygen metabolism which would end with an organ failure.
• Kidney would not be able to excrete the potassium from the body thereby increasing its level in the serum and it causes fatal heart rhythm disturbance.
• Urea level rises in the blood and it affects various body organs like brain, heart, muscles and would also be responsible for low calcium levels in the body.
• Weakness may be due to anemia but in certain cases the red blood cell counts starts decreasing due to the lower level of erythropoietin which is caused due to the kidney failure. It reduces the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood and hence the body gets tired very soon.
• Loss of appetite and fatigue becomes regular and if it continues, it may affect the mental balance which may end up in comma.
• Rising blood pressure due to excess of fluid present in the body is another symptom for kidney failure and the fluid may start to deposit on lungs which ends with heart failure.
The symptoms of kidney failure would vary a lot depending on patient to patient and also it depends on what kind of treatment you undergo.
Test required to diagnose the Kidney Failure
• Kidney failures can be diagnosed with blood test. The buildup of waste product would determine the kidney failures. BUN, GFR, and Creatinine are essential factors to determine the condition of kidneys. When the BUN and Creatinine level rises up in the blood and the GFR level decreases, the kidney failure is confirmed. The above mentioned three factors determines the rate with which the blood is filtered through the kidneys. The rate would always differ depending on the age, gender, and race of the person.
• Urine can be used to determine the Kidney failure. With a urine test, the doctor would measure the amount of protein and the presence of abnormal cells in it. If protein is found in the urine, it points towards something abnormal in the body. Abnormally aggregated red and white blood cells in the kidney denotes the presence of Kidney Disease.
• Abdominal Ultrasound test can determine the size of the kidney. If any obstruction is seen in he reports, it denotes presence of Kidney Disease.
We celebrate World Kidney Day on every 2nd Thursday of March each year. This year we celebrated on 14th March 2013. Now it is obvious that why do we focus much more in saving our kidneys. What type of work the kidneys really do for us, why they are so important and why it is essential to take care of the kidneys. This article is all about the workings of our kidney. They are the waste disposal system of our body, which keeps on working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days of a year – that is without taking a single leave. When it takes a leave, our life comes to danger. Let’s explore why:
Continue reading “How Kidneys Work – The Vital Role of the Kidney in Human Beings”