World Kidney Day: March 12 – to raise awareness of the importance of kidney health and preventive behaviours to reduce the risk of kidney disease.
Kidneys are two vital organs that sit in your abdomen on either side of your backbone. They’re about the size of a fist and shaped like a bean.
- Filter your blood: They process your blood to sort out excess fluids, unwanted chemicals and waste, and turn these into urine.
- Help regulate your blood pressure
- Balance the amount of water in your body
- Manage your body’s production of vitamin D
Any changes to damage to your kidneys can cause these amazing organs to fail.
- Kidney stones are a painful condition. These stones are hard deposits that form inside the kidneys. A kidney stone can cause severe pain in the side and back and below the ribs.
- Chronic kidney disease (CKD) often has no signs or symptoms in the early stages. That’s why the majority of individuals with kidney disease tend to have symptoms in the later stages – when the kidneys are failing or when there are high levels of protein in the urine.
Signs and symptoms of kidney failure:
- Too much or not enough urine
- Swelling of legs, ankles, feet
- Persistent nausea
- Muscle cramps
- Pain or pressure in your chest
- Unexplained shortness of breath
What causes kidney failure?
There are several causes or conditions that can lead to kidney failure – with diabetes and high blood pressure being the most common cause of kidney failure, also known as end-stage renal disease or ESRD. Other factors that put you at an increased risk of kidney failure are:
- Heart disease or a heart attack
- A severe infection like sepsis
- Urinary tract problems
- Chemotherapy drugs that treat cancer and some autoimmune diseases
- Drug abuse
- Being overweight or obese
- Kidney stones
- A family history of kidney disease
How to prevent kidney failure
There is a lot you can do to prevent or reduce your risk of kidney failure.
- Eat a healthy diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables (citrus, calcium, plant based protein)
- Reduce your intake of salt to avoid high blood pressure
- Exercise regularly
- Lose weight if you’re overweight
- Keep your blood sugar, lipids under control
- Do not smoke or quit smoking
- Take medications as directed by your doctor
- Get tested for kidney disease especially if you’re at risk