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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Tips to help keep your kidneys healthy
Small hard deposits made of acid salts and minerals forms on the interior of Kidneys and are commonly known as Kidney Stones. There are many reasons for why this Stones are formed and it can have severe effect on the Urinary Tract System, Kidneys, and Urinary Bladder. Stones are formed when the Urine gets concentrated, allowing mineral to crystallize and later they stick together in their solid state.
As the Kidney Stone passes through the Urinary Bladder it causes immense pain. While it causes no permanent damage, it does pain a lot. A lot of water intake would help the Kidney Stone pass effortlessly.
There are instances wherein the Stones have to be removed with the help of a surgery. The type of treatment would depend on the doctor’s recommendation to reduce the risk of recurrent Kidney Stones and also to be away from the risk of developing it again.
SYMPTOMS OF KIDNEY STONE
A Kidney Stone shows no symptoms until it starts moving inside the Kidney or when it passes into the Ureter. Ureter is the tube connecting Kidney and Bladder and when the Stone touches the walls of Ureter, it causes various symptoms.
Following are the symptoms of Kidney Stones:
- Severe pain in the side and back, below the ribs
- Pain that spreads to the lower abdomen and groin
- Pain that comes in waves and fluctuates in intensity
- Pain on urination
- Pink, red or brown urine
- Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
- Nausea and vomiting
- Persistent urge to urinate
- Urinating more often than usual
- Fever and chills if an infection is present
DIAGNOSIS OF KIDNEY STONES
If you suspect a Kidney Stone, it’s better to get it diagnosed. It requires certain tests and procedures:
Blood Test: It determines the level of Calcium and Uric acid in the blood. Also it helps monitor the heath of Kidneys and diagnose its conditions.
Urine Test: It requires 24 hours collection of the Urine to know the amount of stones that the person is excreting through Urine.
Imaging Test: With the help of this test, one can see the amount, and size of stones, present in the Kidney. The person would have to undergo X-ray or CT scan that may reveal the required information. Normally, tiny stones are missed during an X-ray but CT scan would capture it all. Other imaging options include an ultrasound, a noninvasive test, and intravenous pyelography, which involves injecting dye into your arm vein and taking X-rays as the dye travels through your kidneys and bladder.
Analysis of stone: In this test, the person is asked to urinate through a strainer to catch the stones. A further lab analysis would reveal the make-up of this stones. Doctor would determine the causes of stones through this analysis.
More than 80% of the Kidney stones passes on their own but it has been observed that Kidney Stones often have high recurrence rate and the patient can develop another stones within 10 years of life span.
Once the type of the stone is determined, the risk of recurrence can be minimized. Analysis of the stone after capturing it would tell its type. In otherwise healthy patients, the major complications of a kidney stone is the potential for infection or the inability to control pain or nausea.
PREVENTING THE KIDNEY STONES
- Keeping yourself hydrated is the best way to prevent the Kidney Stones. One should be drinking adequate amount of water especially those who sweat more
- For those with underlying medical conditions, chronic medications are very important
- It is very essential to drink more water and urinate more for the stone to be excreted in the initial stages itself
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.