Friday, June 22, 2012

Kidney Disease: What Should You Know

I asked a few of my friends about kidneys and most of them knew about as much as I did. I think it's because most of us don't talk about kidneys, unless there is something wrong with them. Well it so happened that my dad is in the hospital having tests being run on his kidneys, and I thought it would be appropriate to learn a little more about human kidneys.

What Are Kidneys?

The kidneys are a pair of fist-sized organs that lie on either side of the spine in the lower middle of the back. They contain roughly a million filtering units called nephrons. The kidneys connect to the bladders by tubes call ureters.


What Do They Do?

The main function of the kidneys is to remove waste and excess water from the blood. These kidneys, when healthy, can process 200 liters of blood and produce 2 liters of urine every day. Kidneys balance the body's fluids as well as produce hormones that control blood pressure. They also help in the making of red blood cells and is vital to the activation of vitamin D which promotes healthy bones.

What Are the Known Facts About Chronic Kidney Disease?

There are believe to be at least 26 million Americans that have CKD and millions of others who are at risk. These high risk groups include people with diabetes and hypertension as well as those whose family have a history of kidney problems. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease while high blood pressure is not far behind at number 2. People who use pain relievers for a long period of time, increase the possibility of kidney damage, and street drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine have been known to cause kidney problems as well.

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are very common and are the results of too much calcium from foods or urinary track obstructions. When the stones become too big, they cause severe pain in your back and side. Treatments are available that can break down the stones into more passable pieces, when the kidney stones become too big to pass.

Warning Signs

*Blood in the urine

*High blood pressure

*Puffiness around the eyes

*Frequent urination, particularly at night

*Swelling of hands and feet

How to check for kidney disease

There are three simple tests that can be done to check for kidney disease.

1) Blood pressure check--140/90 is considered high

2) Urination test--this test checks for red and white blood cells as well as proteins, none of which should not be found in the urine.

3) Blood creatinine test--this test removes certain toxins from the blood. It is the best way to check how well the kidneys are functioning.

How to treat kidney disease

One of the ways to treat this disease is through dialysis. There are two types of dialysis treatments available.

* Hemodialysis--A tube connects your arm to a dialysis machine and filters out the waste product, then the clean blood flows back into your arm.

*Peritoneal dialysis--this is where your belly is filled with a special fluid that collects waste product and extra water from your blood. The fluid is then drained from your body and thrown away.

Another way is to have a kidney transplant. This can be from a close family member or a complete stranger. It must be a good match so that the immune system will not attack it. There is a long waiting list for unknown donors. You may have a shorter wait, if you know someone who is willing to give you a kidney, because a person can lead a healthy life with just one good kidney.

What can we do to maintain healthy kidneys?

EXERCISE... regularly as it helps to regulate the glucose level in your body---glucose needs to be controlled because it can lead to diabetes, which is one of the key ingredients to kidney failure. Since high blood pressure is another area of kidney malfunction, it is imperative to exercise as often as possible.

WATER... drink lots of it, at least 8 to 12 glasses a day. Studies have shown that people with kidney disease have a shortage of hydration in their system. Some fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, tomatoes, zucchini, and bucumber also contain large amounts of water.

BALANCED DIET... foods in their natural state and unprocessed as possible. For those who have kidney difficulties, it is recommended to have a dietician, well versed in the knowledge of kidney meal planning, to assist you.

What marvelous organs we are blessed to have. The least we can do is take care of ourselves so that we can have an optimal life. Thanks for reading and Dad I pray that your kidneys improve.