Most of us generally know that our bodies perform better when all of our organs are working optimally, but not everyone in Anaheim or elsewhere is aware that the power the kidneys have.
This is true whether someone doesn’t need any care, is receiving in-home care or even lives in an assisted care facility, kidney health is vital.
How vital? Very vital, says the team at Accredited Home Care, who encourages clients to put extra effort into making sure their kidneys function well.
Not only does this focus help keep these organs working as they’re supposed to, but actually prevents damage to the rest of the body.
This isn’t just a general statement but something that truly happens with kidney problems.
Because kidneys have an important role in filtering out toxins from our bloodstream, when they’re not working, these toxins can actually spread to other body parts and processes, including the heart, brain, and lungs.
The National Kidney Foundation says people with Chronic Kidney Disease can face a number of negative health conditions throughout their whole body, including:
- Nerve damage
- Anemia/low red blood cell count
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack/stroke
- Cardiovascular disease
- Kidney failure
Certainly, most medical experts would prefer to intervene before someone’s body is impacted by damage from a malfunctioning kidney, but sometimes, the signs are hard to spot.
Even more preferable is if people take steps to prevent this disease or at least take steps to minimize their risk.
This month is a perfect time to do so: the National Kidney Foundation has declared March to be National Kidney Month, an occasion where people can learn more about the role of the kidneys and how connected they are to the rest of the body. It also encourages people to assess themselves and their risk potential for kidney disease. Learning this info can lead to visits to and conversations with their health providers about good kidney health.
What to watch out for
When our kidneys are working as they’re supposed to, they filter out waste products from your blood, along with excess water and other impurities. These are typically directed to your bladder where they are removed when you urinate.
Kidneys also regulate salt, potassium and acidity levels and control how many red blood cells are produced. They help your bones stay firm and make sure your muscles work.
So if your kidneys start to slow down or become less effective, you’ll often see an increase in problems in many of these other areas. Diseases or trauma can also impact kidney health.
Signs that something may not be working include feeling fatigued, swollen hands or feet, puffy eyes, using the bathroom more often than usual, high blood pressure, inflammation and urinary tract problems. This can also lead to mental conditions such as difficulty concentrating and difficulty sleeping.
But Better Health Channel said that people sometimes wait until kidney function dangerously has decreased before seeking help – often to the point that kidney function has dropped as low as 10 percent. That’s why kidney disease is sometimes called a silent disease, since people may observe the symptoms taking place and try to treat them individually without realizing that they all come from the same source.
Lower your risks
Healthline.com said there are actually some simple ways to decrease the chances of developing kidney problems. This strategy seems to show up everywhere and there are good reasons for it.
- Exercise. Moderate physical activity either daily or several days a week can do wonders for your mental and physical health, including circulation. This can be as basic as a 20-minute walk along with some stretching.
- Drink a lot of water. This doesn’t mean dangerous levels, but try to drink around eight glasses of water a day or at least beverages with water in them, like coffee or tea. This gives a boost to the kidneys in being able to flush out materials before they can hurt the body and also keeps you well hydrated.
- Watch your blood pressure. This can benefit the whole body, including the kidneys. You can reduce your blood pressure by cutting back on certain foods like salt, losing weight or looking for ways to reduce stress.
- Focus on your blood sugar. One of the risks of poor kidney function is an increase in acquiring diabetes, a disease where insulin levels need to be managed and kidneys could be seriously affected over time from trying to process larger amounts of sugar from the bloodstream.
- Eat better. Looking for foods with better protein and less processed ingredients can go a long way. Fresher is better, along with ‘super foods’ that have bonus ingredients like antioxidants.
- Stop smoking. Like the suggestion of “exercise more,” this one comes up in just about every list of ways to boost wellness. There are great reasons for this, including that quitting can remove poisons from your body, help your organs work better and improve blood flow.
- Consider reducing medications. Some prescription or over-the-counter pharmaceuticals can cause damage to kidneys over a long-term basis.
Overall, taking care of kidney health can be thought of as taking care of body health, since both systems are so connected.