Kidneys are designed to remove excess water and waste from your body. These two organs also help control red blood cell production and help maintain normal levels of blood pressure, calcium, electrolytes, phosphorus and vitamin D within the body. At least one healthy, properly functioning kidney is essential to good health and kidney disease can threaten that delicate balance that keeps us alive.
Causes of Kidney Disease
High blood pressure and diabetes are the two main causes of kidney disease. Autoimmune diseases like lupus, hereditary diseases like polycystic kidney disease and other disorders of the kidneys can also be the cause of kidney disease.
Symptoms of Kidney Disease
Early detection of kidney is difficult since it is deemed a ‘silent disease’ and initially presents with generic symptoms. Early symptoms include loss of appetite and weight loss, headaches, nausea, itchy skin, fatigue and an overall feeling of being ill.
As kidney disease progresses, the symptoms will worsen to include foul breath, easy bruising, excessive thirst, shortness of breath, drowsiness, confusion, difficulty in concentrating, bone pain, muscle cramps, swelling of the hands and feet and morning sickness.
Treatment of Kidney Disease
As part of the treatment, medication is given to control blood pressure and slow the progression of kidney disease. That is followed by a dietary change and the addition of extra calcium and vitamin D to the diet. Iron pills to combat anemia may be prescribed or if the patient is severely anemic, injects of iron may be needed. Other medications to prevent phosphorus levels from increasing may be used, as well as steroids and/or chemotherapy.
If the loss of kidney function becomes too great, dialysis or a transplant will be necessary to treat the disease.
Prevention of Kidney Disease
An ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure, and to help prevent the onset of kidney disease it is essential to take steps to maintain overall good health. Prevention starts with maintaining proper blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Diet and exercise always play an important role in disease prevention and a maintaining a healthy weight will help prevent kidney disease. Eating a diet low in sodium and protein will help keep kidneys functioning properly. Avoid taking medications or dietary supplements that have been shown to harm kidneys.
National Kidney Foundation