World Kidney Day is a global awareness campaign that focuses on the important role of the kidneys in carrying out bodily functions. A major function of the kidneys is to eliminate toxins/waste products as well as excess fluids from the body. This function of the kidneys is necessary to maintain a stable balance of body chemicals.
Functions of the Kidney
The kidneys are powerful chemical factories that perform the following functions:
- Removing waste products from the body
- Removing drugs from the system
- Balancing the body’s fluid levels
- Releasing hormones to regulate blood pressure
- Producing an active form of vitamin D that is essential for strong, healthy bones
- Controlling the production of red blood cells
Since the kidneys play a crucial role in the body, any change in their function can result in life-threatening consequences. Kidney disease is also referred to as the “Quiet Disease” as patients often do not experience any symptoms until they approach a later stage in the course of the disease. Hence, awareness about the early warning signs of kidney disease is of very important and can make a difference between life and death.
Causes and Symptoms
When the kidneys are affected, they lose the ability to filter blood, thus leading to the accumulation of wastes and excess fluid in the body. Look out for these six causes and signs of kidney disease:
- Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney disease.
- High blood pressure is also a precursor to renal issues.
- Blood and/or protein in the urine.
- Frequent urination, particularly at night.
- Puffiness around the eyes, and swelling of hands and feet.
- Some kidney conditions are hereditary, while others are congenital, i.e., individuals are born with an abnormality that can affect their kidneys.
Tests to Check Kidney Function
A simple lab investigation can go a long way:
Serum creatinine test: The kidneys usually completely filter creatinine from our blood. A high level of creatinine indicates a kidney problem. According to the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), a creatinine level higher than 1.2 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dL) for women and 1.4 mg/dL for men is a sign of a kidney disease.
Blood urea nitrogen (BUN): A normal BUN level is between 7 and 20 mg/dL. A higher value may suggest renal stones or renal disease.
Estimated glomerular filtration rate (GFR): A value lower than 60 milliliters/minute/1.73m2 may be a warning sign of renal disease.
How to Improve Kidney Health Naturally
- Keeping fit helps reduce your blood pressure and also reduces your susceptibility to chronic kidney disease (CKD).
- Keeping regular control of your blood sugar levels can help prevent or reduce kidney damage, particularly in case of diabetics
- Although many are aware that high blood pressure can lead to heart disease or a stroke, few are aware that high BP is also the most common cause of kidney damage.
- Maintaining a healthy fluid intake helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea and other toxins from the body.
- Following a kidney-friendly diet could go a long way
- Reducing your salt intake and limiting the intake of processed and restaurant food is highly recommended
- Smoking slows the blood flow to the kidneys, impairing their ability to function properly. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by about 50 percent.
- Regular consumption of OTC (over-the-counter) drugs is known to cause renal damage.
- Get your kidney function checked regularly if you have diabetes, hypertension, obesity or any other health issues.