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Kidneys: How to know actions that can damage your kidneys

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13 mins,

Kidney diseases are silent killers, which will largely affect your quality of life. There are however several easy ways to reduce the risk of developing kidney diseases.

Your kidneys filter wastes and excess fluids from your blood, which are then excreted in your urine.

When chronic kidney disease reaches an advanced stage, dangerous levels of fluid, electrolytes and wastes can build up in your body.

Key Points

  • Your kidneys filter waste and excess fluids from your blood, which are then excreted in your urine.
  • Kidney diseases are silent killers that will largely affect your quality of life.
  • Kidney diseases can be cause by actions, such as consistent use of skin bleaching, not drinking enough water, taking drugs not prescribed by a certified doctor, lack of good personal hygiene, untreated high blood pressure, and diabetes.
  • The signs and symptoms may not occur until late in the course of the disease and may include: nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue and weakness, sleep problems, changes in how much you urinate, decreased mental sharpness, muscle twitches, and cramps.
  • Your doctor can diagnose kidney disease through blood tests to check the levels of creatinine and urea in your blood, a urine test, and an imaging test.
  • Things to avoid if diagnosed with kidney disease include limiting salt intake, limiting consumption of foods with high potassium content, and limiting your protein intake.
  • In order to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease, you should avoid self-medication, and follow the instructions for taking any medication you are given by your doctor, maintain a healthy weight, not smoke, and manage your medical conditions with your doctor’s help.

Of recent, kidney disease and kidney failure are fast becoming a common health challenge to Nigerians.

This could be as a result of some lifestyles that can increase your risks of kidney failure.
According to chief nurse educator, Mopelola Olusanya, the following actions can cause kidney diseases:

1) Consistent use of skin bleaching products can lead to kidney failure.

2) Not drinking enough water can strain your kidneys and cause kidney failure. You shouldn’t have less than 8 cups of water daily.

3) Taking unprescribed drugs, herbal concoctions (Agbo) or
self medication can cause kidney damage.

4) Lack of good personal hygiene especially in the area where drinking water is accessed can cause kidney disease.

5) High blood pressure when left untreated can damage the kidneys, leading to kidney failure.

6) Diabetes is one of the major causes of kidney disease/failure because the kidneys do not tolerate elevated blood sugar levels.

Normal kidney vs. Diseased kidney

A normal kidney has about 1 million filtering units. Each unit, called a glomerulus, connects to a tubule, which collects urine.

Conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes take a toll on kidney function by damaging these filtering units and collecting tubules and causing scarring

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Image Credit:indianmart

What are the causes?

  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Glomerulonephritis (gloe-mer-u-low-nuh-fry-tis), an inflammation of the kidney filtering units (glomeruli)
  • Interstitial nephritis (in-tur-stish-ul nuh-fry-tis), an inflammation of the kidney tubules and surrounding structures
  • Polycystic kidney disease, a condition characterized by the structural abnormality of the renal tubes, resulting in the growth and development of cysts within the kidney.
  • Prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract, from conditions such as enlarged prostate, kidney stones and some cancers
  • Vesicoureteral (ves-ih-koe-yoo-ree-tur-ul) reflux, a condition that causes urine to back up into your kidneys
  • Recurrent kidney infection, also called pyelonephritis (pie-uh-low-nuh-fry-tis)

What are the risk factors of kidney diseases?

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Family history of kidney disease
  • Abnormal kidney structure
  • Older age

What are the signs and symptoms of kidney diseases?

People with the risk factors above are more likely to have chronic kidney disease.

Signs and symptoms of kidney disease are often nonspecific, meaning they can also be caused by other illnesses. They may not occur until late in the course of the disease.

Signs and symptoms of kidney disease may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Sleep problems
  • Changes in how much you urinate
  • Decreased mental sharpness
  • Muscle twitches and cramps
  • Swelling of feet and ankles
  • Persistent itching
  • Chest pain, if fluid builds up around the lining of the heart
  • Shortness of breath, if fluid builds up in the lungs
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) that’s difficult to control

What can I do if I’m diagnosed with kidney disease?

Depending on your situation, kidney function and overall health, your dietitian may recommend that you:

Avoid products with added salt

Lower the amount of sodium you eat each day by avoiding products with added salt, including many convenience foods, such as frozen dinners, canned soups and fast foods. Other foods with added salt include salty snack foods, canned vegetables, and processed meats and cheeses.

Choose lower potassium foods

Your dietitian may recommend that you choose lower potassium foods at each meal. High-potassium foods include bananas, oranges, potatoes, spinach and tomatoes.

Examples of low-potassium foods include apples, cabbage, carrots, green beans, grapes and strawberries. Be aware that many salt substitutes contain potassium, so you generally should avoid them if you have kidney failure.

Limit the amount of protein you eat.

Your dietitian will estimate the appropriate number of grams of protein you need each day and make recommendations based on that amount.

High-protein foods include lean meats, eggs, milk, cheese and beans. Low-protein foods include vegetables, fruits, breads and cereals.

What will a medical doctor do to manage a kidney disease?

If you have a medical condition that increases your risk of kidney disease you should seek medical care immediately.

Your doctors will ask if you have high blood pressure, if you’ve taken a medication that might affect kidney function, if you’ve noticed changes in your urinary habits, and whether you have any family members who have kidney disease.

Next, your doctor performs a physical exam, also checking for signs of problems with your heart or blood vessels, and conducts a neurological exam. Investigations that will be carried out will include:

Blood tests- Kidney function tests look for the level of waste products, such as creatinine and urea, in your blood.

Urine tests- Analyzing a sample of your urine may reveal abnormalities that point to chronic kidney failure and help identify the cause of chronic kidney disease.

Imaging tests- Your doctor may use ultrasound to assess your kidneys’ structure and size. Other imaging tests may be used in some cases.

Removing a sample of kidney tissue for testing- Your doctor may recommend a kidney biopsy to remove a sample of kidney tissue. Kidney biopsy is often done with local anesthesia using a long, thin needle that’s inserted through your skin and into your kidney. The biopsy sample is sent to a lab for testing to help determine what’s causing your kidney problem.

How can kidney diseases be prevented?

To reduce your risk of developing kidney disease:

  • Follow instructions on over-the-counter medications. Avoid self-medication and follow the instructions for taking any medication you are given by your doctor.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. 
  • Don’t smoke. 
  • Manage your medical conditions with your doctor’s help.

Speak to a Doctor today about any medical concern you have by registering on Kompletecare and take advantage of our Online Consultation. With KompleteCare, a Doctor is just a click away.

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How Telemedicine can help

The term telemedicine is refers to the practice of connecting patients with doctors or other healthcare professionals using technology outside of the typical office visit. Through the use of internet technology, you can access healthcare services from well-trained doctors. You can share your medical information with healthcare professionals.

Through telemedicine, the blood pressure of individuals with kidney diseases is monitored, and the best foods to consume are advised. Telemedicine eliminates long-distance locations, making accessibility to rural areas possible with just a click away. Speak to a doctor today about any medical concern.

No exorbitant medical service costs; you get improved dialysis monitoring, health education, and symptom control from your telecommunication technology devices.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.How do you know if your kidneys are damaged?

Chronic kidney failure is a progressive loss of kidney function. If you have advanced chronic kidney disease, your body may accumulate hazardous amounts of fluid, electrolytes, and waste products.

The symptoms and signs of kidney disease are frequently ambiguous. This implies that other ailments may possibly be the cause of them. However, your kidneys can compensate for reduced function, so you may not experience symptoms until permanent damage has taken place.

When kidney disease worsens, you can experience the symptoms listed below:

  • A lack of breath
  • Dry itchy skin
  • Cramping in the muscles
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling in the feet and ankles
  • Difficulty sleeping and
  • Excessive or insufficient urination.

2.How do I check if my kidneys are OK?

It is medically advised to regularly check the health of your kidneys, so that you can take action to safeguard your kidneys as soon as you become aware of your condition. You conduct some tests using your urine or blood:

Urine tests

Protein leakage into the urine is one of the first indications of kidney disease, often known as proteinuria. Urine can be tested for protein levels using one of two methods:

Urine dipstick test: can be performed as a fast test to check for albumin, which is a protein made by your liver, but this test is usually performed as part of a complete urinalysis. Although it cannot measure albumin precisely, it can tell your doctor if your albumin levels are high or low.

Urine albumin to creatinine ratio (UACR): This test calculates the amount of albumin in your urine and compares it to the amount of creatinine, a waste product that results from the body’s natural deterioration of muscles. Your doctor can find out how much albumin enters your urine over the course of a day using a UACR test.

Blood tests: Your kidneys filter waste, poisons, and surplus fluid from your blood; thus, a blood test can be used by your doctor to assess kidney function. The results of the blood tests will indicate how effectively your kidneys are functioning and how rapidly waste gets eliminated.

Some of the blood tests that are performed are as follows:

Serum creatinine: This blood test checks the level of creatinine in your blood. Your serum creatinine level rises when your kidneys are not functioning properly. Though your age, sex, and body mass determine what the normal values will be.

Globular filtration rate (GFR): Your kidneys’ ability to filter waste, poisons, and excess fluid from your blood is gauged by your GFR. Your kidneys are probably not functioning as they should if your GFR is low; this is because your GFR decreases with the progression of kidney disease.

Blood urea nitrogen (BUN): This test calculates your blood’s urea nitrogen content. Your body produces urea nitrogen as a waste product when it breaks down the protein in the meals you eat. Your age and any additional medical concerns you may have will determine your normal amount of urea nitrogen, which typically falls between 7 and 20. Your kidneys may not be functioning as well as they should if your levels are higher than normal. As your BUN level increases, your kidney disease worsens.

3.How do I know if I have injured my kidney?

You can tell if your kidney is injured by a variety of signs and symptoms, such as excreting little urine, puffiness around your eyes, ankles, and legs, and exhaustion or lethargy.

4.Can a kidney injury heal on its own?

Among the organs throughout the urinary tract, the kidneys sustain external trauma injuries more often than any other. A minor kidney injury can often heal on its own at home. When it comes to other mild kidney ailments, doctors address the issue with cautious fluid management and bed rest, which are frequently the only treatments required because the kidney can recover on its own.

5.Where is kidney pain felt?

The typical location of kidney pain is in the back, under the ribs, and on either side of the spine. The contributing factors could be kidney stones, infections, or other issues with the kidneys. Kidney pain can be avoided by staying hydrated and preventing urinary tract infections.

6.What does it feel like when something is wrong with your kidneys?

Toxins and contaminants may accumulate in your blood as a result of a significant decline in renal function, and you may experience fatigue, weakness, and difficulty concentrating as a result of this. Anemia can be another side effect of kidney illness that can lead to exhaustion and struggling to sleep.

7.What colour is urine when your kidneys are failing?

Your body may accumulate toxic waste and retain water if your kidneys are failing. When this occurs, toxins, blood, and extra protein may be found in your urine. As a result of toxins depositing in your blood, your urine may turn brown, deeper tan, or possibly a little red.

8.What is the fastest way to flush your kidneys?

Water can help flush your kidneys. Water consumption is essential for the kidneys to adequately remove any extra waste products. This is particularly crucial while doing a kidney cleanse. According to a study, men should drink approximately 3.7 liters and women 2.7 liters of fluid per day, respectively.

9.Does lemon water flush the kidneys?

A fresh lemon fruit squeeze in your water does some magic to your kidney. This is because lemon juice is naturally acidic; it raises the citrate levels in urine, which prevents any form of kidney stones from developing in your kidney. Lemon juice also removes waste and other poisons from the blood.

The most frequent component of kidney stones, which is calcium oxalate crystals, dissolves when diluted lemon juice is consumed on a daily basis and also slows the pace of kidney stone production. If a person has kidney stones, mixing lemon juice with olive oil helps the stones dissolve and pass more easily.

10.Does prolonged sitting cause kidney disease?

Prolonged sitting can cause some health conditions. According to the findings, extended periods of occupational sitting are linked to an increased risk of kidney disorders, proteinuria, chronic kidney disease (CKD), end-stage renal disease (ESRD), and death from all causes.

11.Are kidney diseases curable?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) has no known cure; however, medication can help manage symptoms and prevent the condition from getting worse. The course of your CKD will determine how you will be treated. The primary interventions consist of modifying one’s lifestyle to maintain optimal health.


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Armenakas, N. A. (2023). Kidney injuries.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Kidney testing: Everything you need to know.

Crider, C. (2023). When your kidneys are failing, what color is your urine.

Health Direct. (2023). Kidney pain.

Lockett, E. (2023). Doing a natural kidney cleanse at home.

Mayo Clinic. (2024). Chronic kidney disease.

National Kidney Foundation. (2024). Acute Kidney Injury (AKI).

National Kidney Foundation. (2024). 10 signs you may have kidney disease.

Oxford. (2017). 8 easy ways to cleanse your kidneys.

Tsai, M., Gao, W., Chien, K., Baw, C., Hsu., & Wen, C. (2022). Associations of prolonged occupational sitting with the spectrum of kidney disease: Results from a cohort of a half-million Asian adults.

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