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The kidneys are vital organs responsible for filtering waste products, excess fluid and toxins from the blood to form urine.

Beyond eliminating waste, they also regulate electrolyte balance, blood pressure, and red blood cell production.

The kidneys play a role in balancing pH levels and maintaining overall homeostasis in the body. This filtration process helps maintain overall bodily functions and keeps us healthy. Symptoms of kidney dysfunction include; changes in urination, lower back pain, swelling in ankles or feet, fatigue, blood in urine and nausea.

Common risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, family history of kidney disease and certain conditions such as autoimmune diseases and urinary tract infections.

Common Kidney Diseases:

Kidney Stones: These are hard deposits of minerals and salts that form within the kidneys. They can cause severe pain as they pass through the urinary tract.   Symptoms include side or lower back pain, cloudy urine, blood in urine and nausea.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): Even though this is not solely a kidney disease, UTIs can affect the kidneys if left untreated resulting in kidney infections and potentially kidney damage.

Acute Kidney Injury (AKI): This is a sudden episode of kidney damage or failure that happens where the kidneys suddenly stop working properly. It usually happens when there is not enough blood flow to your kidneys. Most people will return to their previous kidney function with early treatment. People at risk include; people with uncontrolled high blood pressure, age 65 and above, people with heart disease, people with peripheral artery disease, severely dehydrated. Symptoms include pain or pressure in chest, seizures, confusion, shortness of breath, urinating less often.

Nephrotic Syndrome: This is a group of symptoms that indicate kidney damage, including proteinuria (excessive protein in urine), hypoalbuminemia (low levels of albumin in the blood), edema(swelling) and high cholesterol.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): This is a long-term condition where the kidneys gradually lose function over time. It’s often caused by conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic diseases. Symptoms may include fatigue, swelling and changes in urination. In severe cases, it is managed through dialysis or kidney transplant. Early detection and management are key to slowing its progression and preserving kidney function. Lifestyle changes are a management procedure with no side effects.

Diabetic Nephropathy: This refers to kidney damage caused by diabetes. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys, leading to kidney failure if not properly managed.

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD): This is a genetic disorder characterized by the growth of numerous cysts in the kidneys. These cysts can interfere with kidney function over time. These cysts are non-cancerous sacs containing water-like fluid. Many people with this condition have kidney failure by age 60. Symptoms may include back or side pain, high blood pressure and a swollen abdomen.

Glomerulonephritis: This refers to the inflammation of the glomeruli also known as the tiny filters in the kidneys that remove waste and excess fluids from the blood.

It can be sudden or over a period of time. When waste, toxic and metabolic fluid are not properly filtered into the urine, they build up in the body causing swelling and fatigue. It may result from infections, autoimmune disorders or other causes.

Preventive Measures for Kidney Health:

Stay Hydrated: Drinking an adequate amount of water helps to flush out toxins and prevents the formation of kidney stones. Aim for at least 8 glasses of water per day.
Maintain a Healthy Diet: Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Limit intake of processed foods, salt and sugar as excessive consumption can strain kidneys and increase the risk of kidney disease.

Exercise Regularly: Engage in regular physical activity to maintain a healthy weight, lower blood pressure, and improve overall cardiovascular health.

Manage Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar: High blood pressure and high blood sugar are the leading causes of kidney disease. Monitor your blood pressure and blood sugar levels regularly.

Avoid Smoking and Limit Alcohol Intake: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can impair kidney function and increase the risk of kidney disease.

Lifestyle Changes to Improve Kidney Health Naturally:

Maintain a Healthy Diet: Focus on consuming whole grains, lean meat, healthy fats, limit salt and processed foods intake.

Manage Stress: Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure and other risk factors for kidney disease. Practice stress-reducing activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises or engage in hobbies you enjoy.

Prioritize Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Poor and inadequate sleep can negatively impact the function of the kidneys.

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