Updated: May 16
Kidneys are one of the organs in our body that work the hardest. When we look after the health of our kidneys, we also look after our overall wellbeing. As such, it’s important that we ensure our kidneys continue functioning well and strongly.
This is what you need to know about chronic kidney disease, so that you know how to minimize your risk and keep your body in the pink of health.
What is the function of our kidneys?
The kidneys are a vital component of the urinary system. They are located beneath the rib cage of the human body, on either side of the spine. Our kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that weigh a quarter of a pound each and measure the size of a fist.
One of the kidneys’ primary duties is to filter our blood to get rid of extra fluid and waste. They also regulate the production of red blood cells, produce vitamins necessary for growth, control blood pressure, and manage certain nutrients like calcium and potassium that are necessary for strong, healthy bones. Without the kidney and its various functions, your urinary system could even collapse, which may be fatal.
What causes chronic kidney disease?
Chronic kidney disease refers to when your kidneys have not been functioning properly for at least 3 months. It is extremely likely to affect people who already have conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease. Lifestyle factors, also may affect your risk of falling ill. The following unhealthy habits can harm our kidneys:
Eating processed food
Eating too much meat
Eating too much food high in sugar
Eating too much salty and high-cholesterol food
Not drinking enough water
Drinking too much alcohol
Missing out on sleep
Sitting still for long periods of time
Taking long-term medication that could be harmful to your kidney (your doctor would be best able to advise you on the risks)medicine for a long time that can damage the kidney
According to the most recent statistics from the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, one Filipino develops chronic kidney disease (CKD) every 40 minutes. This equates to 36 Filipinos developing the renal disease in a single day. More than 7 million Filipinos had CKD in 2021, and it is anticipated to rank as the fifth most common cause of death by 2040.
What are the symptoms of kidney disease?
You might not notice your symptoms until the disease has advanced. However, symptoms will gradually become more noticeable over time, as damage to our kidneys worsen. The following are the common symptoms of kidney disease:
Spikes in high blood pressure
Blood in the urine
Itching that won't go away
Swelling in hands, legs, or feet
Shortness of breath
Lower back pain
Loss of appetite
Puffiness of the eye area
A metallic taste in your mouth
Muscle twitches and cramps
What can we do to keep our kidneys healthy?
We can protect our kidneys by avoiding or controlling health issues, like diabetes and high blood pressure, that harm the kidneys. You can also adopt healthy lifestyle practices like:
Make healthy food choices
Eating a healthy diet can help lower blood pressure. Some heart-healthy foods include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and fish. It is also much better to use herbs and spices rather than salt when cooking. As much as possible, go fresh and frozen instead of eating processed food. Ensure you are drinking enough water, and either limit or completely avoid alcohol.
Stay physically active
It is good to engage in regular physical activity to maintain appropriate blood pressure levels, especially if you tend to sit still for long periods of time. Regular physical movement can also help with controlling chronic diseases.
Avoiding hazardous chemicals
Kidney disease can be brought on by prolonged exposure to hazardous substances like lead, gasoline, and solvents.
When taken improperly, medications can be harmful to your kidneys — and that has a high chance of occurring, if you opt to self-medicate. You should always consult a doctor before you medicate, to get advice on what’s appropriate for your body.
Making wise lifestyle choices and controlling your blood pressure and diabetes are essential to preventing chronic kidney disease. If you are at risk of the condition, see a nephrologist immediately on the Doctor Anywhere app to get treatment to help protect your kidneys.