Show Your Kidneys Some Love!
Your kidneys are so important, they have a whole month dedicated to them; you guessed it, March is National Kidney Month.
Altus Emergency Center doctors, nurses and admin staff will be working hard this month to raise awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle for proper kidney health. The following are ways to protect yourself from developing chronic kidney disease and other kidney related disorders like kidney stones.
Why are Kidneys So Important?
When thinking of the function of our kidneys we can compare them to our body’s natural chemical plant, they are responsible for:
- Regulating Fluid Levels
- Activating Vitamin D which helps keep bones strong
- They filter waste out of 200 liters of blood every day
- They release hormones that help regulate blood pressure
- They control the production of red blood cells
- They keep blood minerals (sodium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and acid content) balanced.
What Happens When Your Kidneys Don’t Function Well?
As you can see from the list above, the kidneys stay pretty busy, so when they suffer damage it inevitably affects other organs, these are some of the problems kidney disease can cause:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Heart Attack
- High Blood Pressure
- Nerve Damage
- Weak Bones
- Kidney Failure
Kidney Health Statistics in the US: Are You at Risk of Developing Kidney Disease?
Did you know that 1 in 3 adults in the US has a high risk of developing kidney disease?
What’s worse 1 in 9 American adults already has kidney disease yet most don’t even know it.
These are some of the leading causes or risk factors for chronic kidney disease:
- A Family History of Kidney Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Being over 60
Other risk factors include:
- Unhealthy lifestyle
- Alcohol Abuse
Kidney Disease Treated in the ER
The most common kidney disease treated in the emergency room is kidney stones which can be extremely painful.
It is estimated that 13% of men and 7% of women in the United States will develop kidney stones at some point in their lives.
To make matters worse, the likelihood of reoccurrence has been estimated to be as high as 50% within 5 years from the first occurrence.
What Causes Kidney Stones?
One of the most common kidney health problems is kidney stones. Kidney stones are nothing more than crystalized calcium deposits, sometimes they contain uric acid or amino acids, they start as small specks, but they can quickly bind and become larger.
Kidney stones can be caused by many factors including:
- Gout (high levels of uric acid)
- High Blood Pressure
- High Protein Diet
- Prolonged Exposure to a Hot Climate or High Altitude
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Family History of Kidney Stones
- Being Inactive for an Extended Period of Time
Kidney Stone Symptoms
Most patients that visit our centers who are diagnosed with kidney stones show one or more of the following symptoms:
- Severe Flank and Lower Back Pain (This may radiate down to the groin area)
- Presence of Blood in Their Urine (Hematuria)
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Heavy Sweating
- Difficulty Urinating
Kidney Stone Diagnosis and Treatments in the ER
Although your symptoms may indicate you have a kidney stone, doctors will require additional tests like x-rays, ultrasounds and in some cases a CT Scan, this will help them determine the size and location of the stone which will then dictate the proper medical treatment.
Kidney stone treatments will vary depending on the severity, size, and location of the stone, small stones will often pass through the urine on their own, and these are usually treated with pain medication and observation. Larger stones or those which have caused other side effects such as infection or kidney failure may require surgery.
Preventing Kidney Disease
If you know you have a higher risk than normal of developing kidney disease the best thing to do is to try and prevent it, in order to do this, should get checked regularly, have a urine test and blood test done at least once a year.
Your kidneys work hard every day, show them love by drinking plenty of fluids, eating a healthy balanced diet, exercise regularly, don’t smoke or abuse alcohol.
Kidney Friendly Candy!
You can care for your kidneys and keep your sweet tooth happy as well! Whether you are treating a chronic kidney disease or just want to ensure proper kidney health, the following is a list of candy that is kidney diet friendly (Source: Davita.com)
Kidney Diet Candy:
- Hard candy
- Jolly Ranchers®
- Lemonhead® candies
- Candy canes
- Sugar free hard candy
- Charms® sour balls
- Lollipops (Dum Dum Pops® or Charms® lollipops)
- Smarties® (known as Rockets® in Canada)
- Mike and Ike® candy
- Jelly beans
- Gummy Bears and fruit slices
- Hot Tamales®
- Peeps® marshmallows
- Now and Later®
- Conversation hearts (usually found around Valentine’s Day)
- Air Heads®
- Laffy Taffy®
- Peach and apple rings
- Sour Patch® Kids®
- Shortbread cookie-type candy
- Fondant (type of cake icing)
Now that you know more about good kidney health, make sure that you keep them in mind when planning a healthy lifestyle for you and your loved ones.