Your kidneys are unsung heroes in your body. They do more than most people know, and they have a huge impact on your overall health. Your kidneys are bean-shaped organs in your lower back that are about the size of your fist, and these little organs pack a big punch.
What Do Kidneys Do?
Your kidneys filter out toxins, drugs, and waste from your blood and send them to your bladder to be expelled as urine, but their work doesn’t stop there. Your kidneys are in charge of producing the hormone that regulates your blood pressure, and they control the production of your red blood cells. To top it all off, your kidneys also produce a form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones. Your kidneys impact almost every part of your body, and they work 24/7 to keep your body clean and strong.
How Do I Keep Them Healthy?
When it comes to keeping your kidneys healthy, you’ve got the power. There are only a handful of conditions that commonly affect the kidneys, and they can be easily prevented with healthy choices and support from your healthcare provider.
- Move Around!
Being active benefits your whole body and every aspect of your health. It helps lower your blood pressure, combat obesity, and boost your heart health, which all contribute to kidney health. You don’t have to run marathons or climb mountains to accomplish this either. Find something fun and simple that you enjoy doing, and keep at it.
- Control Blood Sugar
When there’s too much sugar in your body it can’t all be used. That extra sugar means your kidneys have to work harder to get rid of it. That extra work can put strain on your kidneys and may damage them. When you keep your blood sugar in check, your kidneys don’t have to work overtime. The damage high blood sugar does to your kidneys can even be reversed when it’s caught early, so don’t be afraid to bring it up to your provider. They can provide resources to make blood sugar management easier.
- Monitor Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure can affect almost every organ in your body, including your kidneys. High blood pressure can also damage your kidneys and keep them from working well. Eating less salt and keeping an eye on your blood pressure are simple ways to help your kidney do their best work.
- Watch Your Weight
Extra weight puts stress on your body. It also increases your risk of chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. All these conditions can damage your kidneys and up your risk of developing kidney diseases.
- Drink Water
Staying hydrated is a basic health tip that benefits your whole body. Drinking enough water (8 glasses a day) helps your kidneys flush toxins and waste out of your body. Water intake can also help prevent painful kidney stones.
- Don’t Smoke
Smoking isn’t a good health choice for a lot of reasons. In addition to putting you at risk for cancer it damages your blood vessels, which means less blood flow to your kidneys. Without healthy blood flow your kidneys can’t do their many important jobs.
- Eat Healthy
Making smart food choices is a great way to control your weight, blood sugar, blood pressure, and more. If you want to do some extra good for your kidneys then limit how much salt you eat, and enjoy some delicious, kidney-friendly foods like berries, red bell peppers, onions, apples, and more!
There are a few common conditions that impact your kidneys. They share some similar symptoms, so if you find yourself experiencing any of these it is important to see your provider so they can determine what is happening and how to treat you.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
This condition usually happens when you suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease. Those conditions affect how well your kidneys function and cause damage. Symptoms of CKD include:
- Swelling of the face, hands, legs, or feet
- Muscle cramps
- Dry, itchy skin
- Appetite Loss/Weight Loss
- Chest Pain
Kidney stones are small deposits of salt or other minerals that are made in the kidneys. These stones can cause a lot of discomfort, especially as your body tries to pass them. Diets high in salt can be one of the cases of kidney stones. Symptoms include:
- Pain in your back, stomach, or groin
- Pain or burning when you urinate
- Blood in your urine
- Frequent UTI’s
- Trouble urinating, or frequent urge to urinate
A kidney infection usually occurs when an infection of the bladder or urethra moves up into your kidneys. Symptoms of this infection include:
- Fever or chills
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain in your back, stomach, or groin
- Increased urge to urinate
- Cloudy urine
- Blood in urine
When it comes to your kidneys, its important to do what you can to keep them healthy. From your heart to your bones and blood, your kidneys play a crucial role in your overall health. Making healthy choices like being active, drinking water, and eating healthy are simple ways to promote healthy kidneys and avoid health issues. If you ever experience symptoms like back/stomach/groin pain, trouble urinating, or blood in urine, it’s important to see your provider right away so you can get the right treatment. Your provider can also support you as you work on managing your blood sugar and blood pressure, and can provide you with resources to help you get active and eat healthier.
Schedule your appointment today, and keep your kidneys kickin!