Kidney disease is the silent killer, which will largely affect your quality of life.
When thinking of preventative health measures, your kidneys should come to mind. In protecting your kidneys tend may not be on your mind. However, kidneys play an important role in filtering the toxins and waste out of your blood, regulating blood pressure, and maintaining the right balance of water in your body.
With infections, medications and illnesses it can take a gradual toll on the kidneys, and some decline in function with age. Kidney damage tends to be symptomless until about 90% of kidney function is impaired, often irreversibly. Fortunately, there are many measures you can take to prevent common causes of kidney damage, and keep your kidneys working well through your lifetime.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
While keeping a well-balanced diet is a very important part in having a healthy lifestyle at any age, to prevent obesity. Obesity is a high risk factor for many diseases, including kidney disease. Canada’s Food Guide provides an evidence-based approach to nutrition, based on the most recent science around optimal nutrient intake and disease prevention.
A low in sodium diet is especially important to maintain kidney health, particularly if you have high blood pressure. It is best to avoid packaged, take-out and convenience food that tends to be high in sodium, fat and sugar. Choose whole grains with fresh fruit and vegetables, and moderate amounts of lean protein.
It is always a good idea to drink enough water during the day, but drinking more than the typical four to six glasses a day probably won’t help your kidneys do their job any better.
Find Enjoyable Ways to Keep Active
Having an active lifestyle plays a very important role in protecting your kidneys health in many ways. By maintaining a healthy weight it reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes, which can be the foundation in kidney damage.
Regular exercise can also help regulate your blood pressure, blood sugar levels and increase cardiovascular health. With physical exercise it promotes higher bone density, which may begin to decline as kidneys lose their ability to produce and regulate key vitamins and minerals.
In addition to the protective effects of activity on kidney health, 150 weekly minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity is associated with longer functional independence, higher mobility and better mental health among older adults.
Monitor and Control Blood Pressure
The most common cause of kidney failure is high blood pressure. Even though you will not feel ill but poorly managed blood pressure can damage the arteries supplying blood to the kidneys. This prevents the kidneys to properly filter water and toxins from the blood, and can, in turn, make your blood pressure even higher.
Monitor your blood pressure regularly, and working with your primary health care provider in finding the treatment that works for you best.
Monitor and Control Blood Sugar
Diabetes is a major risk factor in kidney disease, this hinders the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys to filter the blood properly. Careful monitoring and management of diabetes with regular screening can prevent or delay the loss of kidney functions.
Warning Signs of Kidney Disease
A routine blood analysis can detected kidney disease, long before any symptoms are detected. Although kidney damage is usually a gradual and slow decline, it can sometimes occur fairly quickly due to a combination of factors.
When your kidneys are not functioning adequately, and essential nutrients can be lost in urine, toxins can begin to build up in the body, and swelling can occur as water accumulates in tissues. You may notice the following:
- More frequency, colour or volume of urine – A decrease in kidney function can lead to a buildup of toxins and impurities in your blood
- Foamy urine – indicates presence of protein in your urine
- Itching Dry Skin– when your kidneys are no longer able to balance the minerals and nutrients.
- Fatigue and confusion – with the decreased of kidney functions it can lead a buildup of toxins and impurities in your blood
- Swelling of arms, legs, face or abdomen – with the decline of kidney function it can lead to salt and water retention, causes the swelling in your arms, legs, face and abdomen
- Loss of appetite or metallic taste in mouth – the buildup of toxins and decreased kidney function
Treatment for Kidney Disease
As your kidneys retain some function, your treatment may consist of controlling the symptoms, and slowing down the progression of the disease.
When your kidneys become severely damaged, you may need treatment for end-stage kidney disease. At this point, treatment consists of artificially filtering of your blood through regular lifelong dialysis, or receipt of a kidney donor.
Although patients receiving such treatments can live very full and meaningful lives, by taking measures to preserve the health of your kidneys may spare you of being tied to a lifetime of dialysis or anti-rejection medication.