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Look After Your Kidneys

Kidneys are scary. We know they are incredibly important but we don’t feel them, we don’t see them and ask most people what they do, and they will say something about water and going to the loo.

In fact, kidneys are involved in a number of bodily essentials including making urine, removing wastes and extra fluid from the blood; controlling our chemical balance; helping to control blood pressure and helping to make red blood cells.

When kidneys go wrong, there are therefore far reaching very serious consequences. Most of us will have heard of people on dialysis; when people have to spend hours on a machine every few days to clean their kidneys out and even worse, when people have had to wait and wait for a kidney transplant and still no match is found.

This is relevant for our age group because after the age of 40, kidney problems increase. This is compounded by the fact that problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, again more common in older people, can also cause damage to kidneys.

It is estimated that about one in five men and one in four women between the ages of 65 and 74, and half of all people aged 75 or more, have chronic kidney disease. This can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke as well of course as the potential of leading to kidney failure when dialysis or transplantation is the only way forward.

It is a bit early but next spring, March 10th 2016, is World Kidney Day. This is a joint initiative of the International Society of Nephrology (the study of kidney problems and treatments) and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations. The objective is to raise awareness of kidneys, associated health problems and treatments and already lots of events are planned, including many in various towns across the UK.

If you think you would like to get involved or could help in anyway, visit their informative website which gives all the details and lots more

They also give some tips of how to look after your kidneys. These include:

  • Keeping fit and active. This helps to reduce your blood pressure and this helps to reduce the risk of chronic kidney disease.
  • Following on, keeping regular control of your blood sugar level. About half of people who have diabetes develop kidney damage, so it is important for people with diabetes to have regular tests to check their kidney functions.
  • Keep a check on your blood pressure – few know that high blood pressure is the most common cause of kidney damage.
  • Eat healthily and reduce your salt intake. The recommended sodium intake is 5-6 grams a day, around a teaspoonful.
  • Drink enough; and we don’t mean beer or wine. Water will help flush out the kidneys and help them clear sodium, urea and toxins from your body. It is not advised to overload your fluid intake; but by drinking 1.5 to 2 litres of water a day you could be assisting your kidneys function well and keep healthy.
  • Do not smoke; smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys and also increases the risk of kidney cancer.
  • Be aware of what over the counter medication you are taking on a regular basis. Some common drugs including non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen are known to cause kidney damage and disease if taken regularly.
  • If you might be in the high risk factor, suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, obese or of African, Asian or Aboriginal descent, then get your kidney function checked.

  • It is worth being aware of some of the indications that you may have kidney problems. These can include the most obvious one which is a higher need to empty your bladder more often but changes in appetite, fatigue, back and chest pain, and even skin irritations (caused by the build up of waste and toxins in the blood) can all be symptoms of kidney problems.

    Getting a check for kidney disease is quite simple. The doctor takes a blood sample and checks it for levels of creatinine to give an estimate of your glomerular filtration rate or GFR. This gives a good indication of how your kidneys are working.

    The results are usually shown in stages:

    A GFR of more than 90 is stage 1 indicating possibly some kidney damage but with normal filtration rates. Stage 2, with GFR of between 60-89, shows kidney damage with a mild drop in filtration rates. State 3, with GFR between 30-59, indicates moderate kidney damage and beyond that, lower GFR scores show severe kidney problems down to total kidney failure.

    While there is no cure for kidney disease, treatment can help to relieve symptoms and slow or prevent progression of the condition, so if you have any concerns at all, it is important to see your doctor as soon as you can.

    There is more information available at;

    http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/kidney-disease-chronic/pages/introduction.aspx

    and

    http://www.britishkidney-pa.co.uk/

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