Keeping Your Kidneys in Top Shape
We each have two kidneys, located by midway up the back. And while the kidneys can certainly take a beating, it is important to keep them healthy. In fact, it is estimated that upwards of a third of Americans may be at risk for kidney disease.
You could consider the kidneys as the water purifier of our bodies. We rely on our kidneys to filter out the bad stuff we consume and expel it as urine. Making sure that this bad stuff is removed from our bodies quickly and efficiently allows us to get through our days in better health and at our highest physical capacity.
How Can We Keep Our Kidneys Functioning Normally?
Drink plenty of water. We are often reminded that it is important to drink lots of water – 64 ounces a day or more – to keep our weight in check. However, that’s not all that proper water consumption does. In fact, drinking plenty of water also helps the kidneys function properly, allowing them to eliminate waste more quickly and easily. However, water should be consumed slowly over the course of the day and not chugged all at once. Remember, too, that over-hydrating can have negative consequences to the body and kidneys and is neither advisable or therapeutic.
Lose weight, if needed. Obesity can cause a host of issues affecting kidneys including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Any of these can negatively affect the kidneys and lead to early kidney disease or even failure.
Don’t ignore urinary issues. They might seem unrelated, but Lower Urinary Tract Issues or LUTS can, in some cases, create problems in the kidneys as well. Severe forms of enlarged prostate or BPH, urinary retention and other disorders can cause urine to push back into the kidneys, weakening them and eventually leading to kidney failure. Be aware of changes in your urinary habits and speak to a urologist if they change significantly.
Remember that early kidney disease may not have significant outward symptoms. This often leads to late diagnosis. However, if you see any of the following, visit your urologist as soon as possible:
- Painful urination or difficulty urinating
- Foamy urine
- Blood in the urine
- Thirst that won’t go away with normal hydration
- Excessive urination
- Swelling in the extremities
- Puffy eyes
- Kidney stones
For those with advanced renal disease, a kidney can be removed and still allow for normal urinary function, dialysis can pick up where less than healthy kidneys drop off and even kidney transplantation has become an ever-safer procedure.
However, as a urologist, it is most important for me to help ensure your kidneys stay healthy and don’t reach a state of disease that would require drastic intervention.