Take Care With Antibiotics
These bacteria-fighting drugs can damage your kidneys if you use them too often. It can happen even if youâre perfectly healthy, though itâs more serious if your kidneys donât work as well as they should. Some types, like penicillin, sulfonamides, and cephalosporins, are more likely to cause problems.
Ask A Pharmacist Before You Take Any New Medicines
Wastes that build up when your body breaks down medicines can be cleaned out of your blood by your kidneys. When your kidneys dont work well, you may need a lower dose of some medicines. Be sure to tell your health care team about ALL medicines you take. This includes:
- Over-the-counter products
- Drugs a doctor prescribes for you
- Herbal or folk remedies
Ask before you take a new medicinejust in case. To learn more about medicines, visit the Pharmacy.
How Low Is Low
A healthy kidney filters wastes from the blood at a rate of 90 milliliters per minute or more. This is known as the glomerular filtration rate, or GFR. With time, many men’s kidneys start to slip, but function must decline quite a lot before you start to really feel the impact. You feel fine up to the point that kidney function is almost gone, which means you can lead a normal life with reduced kidney function.
On the other hand, lack of early warning from symptoms can deny you the chance to slow the slide. Most people don’t start feeling really ill until kidney function is under 10%.
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Ask Your Health Care Provider Questions
Ask your health care provider the following key questions about your kidney health during your next medical visit. The sooner you know you have kidney disease, the sooner you can get treatment to help protect your kidneys.
Key questions for your health care provider:
- What is my glomerular filtration rate ?
- What is my urine albumin result?
- What is my blood pressure?
- What is my blood glucose ?
- How often should I get my kidneys checked?
Other important questions:
- What should I do to keep my kidneys healthy?
- Do I need to be taking different medicines?
- Should I be more physically active?
- What kind of physical activity can I do?
- What can I eat?
Be Mindful Of Protein
When you eat protein, your body produces waste thats filtered through your kidneys. While protein is an important part of a healthy diet, eating more protein than you need to may cause your kidneys to work harder. Although there needs to be more research on the effects of a high-protein diet on overall kidney health, your doctor will likely recommend a lower-protein diet if you already have CKD. Having too much protein can cause waste to build up in your blood, and your kidneys may not be able to remove it, Maruschak says.
People with any stage of CKD who arent on dialysis should limit their protein intake to 0.6 to 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight to reduce kidney disease progression, Maruschak says. For example, a person who weighs 150 pounds would need 40 to 54 grams of protein per day, which is about 4 to 6 ounces of protein from animal or plant sources, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Be sure to speak with an RD to determine the right amount of protein for you.
Whether or not youve been diagnosed with CKD, it can help to opt for healthier protein sources and watch your portion sizes. Good include:
- Lean meat, fish, or skinless poultry
- Beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas
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Foods That Can Help Protect Your Kidneys
For all of the hard work they do-filtering out waste, regulating blood pressure, converting vitamin D into its usable form-your kidneys might not get the love they deserve. An estimated 37 million Americans have chronic kidney disease , a condition that prevents the organs from functioning properly and can lead to heart disease, stroke and early death. And 9 in 10 affected people don’t know they have it. Diabetes, high blood pressure and age all increase your risk for CKD. But there are some simple ways to lower your odds of the disease or slow its progression, says Juan Jesus Carrero, Ph.D., who studies kidney disease at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. Here are four smart habits to adopt.
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Clinical trials are part of clinical research and at the heart of all medical advances. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat disease. Researchers also use clinical trials to look at other aspects of care, such as improving the quality of life for people with chronic illnesses. Find out if clinical trials are right for you.
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Aim For A Healthy Weight
The NIH Body Weight Planner is an online tool to help you tailor your calorie and physical activity plans to achieve and stay at a healthy weight.
If you are overweight or have obesity, work with your health care provider or dietitian to create a realistic weight-loss plan. View more weight control and physical activity resources to help you get and stay motivated.
Lifestyle Changes To Protect Your Kidneys
1. Blood pressure plays a big part in kidney function. Keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level will help reduce damage to the kidneys. Find here more information on how to reduce high blood pressure naturally.
2. Smoking and drinking should be avoided because they wreak havoc on your kidneys. For example, the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that smoking and consumption of four or more servings of alcohol per day are associated with CKD .
3. Get active with more exercise. It will strengthen your entire body and give you more energy. It will help you keep optimal body weight and reduce your risk of obesity, diabetes and hypertension that can damage the kidneys over time.
4. Consider supplements that provide calcium and vitamin D if you feel you dont get enough on a daily basis. Always consult with your doctor before taking them.
5. Limit using painkillers and steroids and only use them when you feel they are absolutely necessary. For example, the medical journal, Pharmaceuticals , found that NSAIDs pose a significant risk of renal failure for significant duration and as an entity may be under-recognized. .
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What Not To Eat
1. Apricots: Great for fiber but full of potassium, apricots are not ideal for those with kidney disease. The potassium content is even higher in dried apricots, so those need to be avoided entirely as part of any renal diet.
2. Avocados: For a healthy individual, avocados are nutritious and beneficial, but for those with kidney problems, these fruits can be harmful. Avocados contain almost double the amount of potassium of bananas.
3. Bananas: Full of potassium, bananas can reduce kidney efficiency. Tropical fruits in general are high in potassium, but pineapples prove to be more kidney-friendly.
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Keeping potassium levels low prevents hyperkalemia, a dangerous condition where your blood has too much potassium. When combined with renal failure, hyperkalemia can cause serious damage to your heart.
4. Brown Rice: Brown rice contains more potassium and phosphorus than white rice, so it can place unnecessary strain on already damaged kidneys. With portion control, some brown rice can be consumed as part of a balanced renal diet.
5. Canned Foods: Soups, as well as canned vegetables, are popular because of their convenience. The high sodium content is what gives these items a long shelf life but also makes them dangerous for impaired kidneys.
It is best to look for low-sodium options if you do purchase canned foods.
How Much Alcohol Consumption Is Too Much
As you get older, you may feel the effects of alcohol and be unable to drink as much. Alcohol is processed by the body more slowly in older adults, so blood alcohol levels are higher for a longer amount of time after drinking. This can lead to an increased danger of accidents, falls, and injuries, hours after drinking alcohol.
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What To Expect If Youre Facing Kidney Failure
Your outlook depends on the type of kidney failure.
If you have chronic kidney failure, your kidneys cant recover, but you can slow its progression with the right treatment, unless you receive a kidney transplant.
If you have acute kidney failure, your kidneys will most likely recover and start to work again.
Nutrients To Be Aware Of
Keep in mind that there are plenty of other healthy options that will do your kidneys, and your body, plenty of good. If you do have chronic kidney disease, there are a few nutrients you should be aware of.
Your kidneys regulate potassium, which is why its so important to monitor how much you are eating on a regular basis. Your kidneys also have a role in red blood cell production, meaning that if they arent functioning correctly your count may be low. Eating iron-rich foods can help prevent this and help keep your energy levels up.
On the opposite side of the equation, salt can be your enemy. Too much salt can raise your blood pressure and make your heart and kidneys work too hard. Be careful about how much salt you use in cooking and also watch the salt content of pre-packaged foods like canned soups, frozen dinners, and boxed meals. Salt substitutes may also contain a lot of potassium, so try herbs to add flavor and give it some time. You can get used to eating less salt, but it does take six to eight weeks for your taste buds to get used to it.
Lastly, we mentioned phosphorus, but it is worth repeating. A low-phosphorus diet should include lots of fresh fruits and veggies, rice milk, corn and rice cereals, as well as lemonade and even ginger ale.
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Treating Chronic Kidney Disease
As for treatment, much of it relies on healthy lifestyle changes. Its important to correct underlying risk factors, like making sure your diabetes is well-controlled, as well as making dietary changes, says Dr. Malhotra.
He adds that limiting your use of unnecessary supplements and medications , along with smoking cessation and regular exercise can also prevent further kidney damage from occurring.
According to Dr. Robert Greenwell, chief of nephrology at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, treating high blood pressure is another way to protect your kidneys from further damage. Controlling your blood pressure with anACE inhibitor or drugs likelosartan or lisinopril can help you maintain kidney function and lower the amount of protein in your urine.
When Things Go Wrong
A little more than 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 20 show evidence of kidney disease. Some forms of kidney disease are progressive, meaning the disease gets worse over time. When your kidneys can no longer remove waste from blood, they fail.
Waste buildup in your body can cause serious problems and lead to death. To remedy this, your blood would have to be filtered artificially through dialysis, or you would need a kidney transplant.
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Work With A Dietitian
Making changes to your diet can be hard. If youre struggling to stick to a healthy diet, a registered dietitian can help you to develop a meal plan thats tailored to your individual needs.
It can seem overwhelming to manage your diet, says Maruschak. An RD can help you to find foods that fit into your specific dietary requirements.
Limit Saturated Fats And Avoid Trans Fat
Diets that are high in saturated and trans fats increase the risk of heart disease and whats bad for your heart is bad for your kidneys. Heart health and kidney health are interconnected, as the heart constantly pumps blood throughout the body and the kidneys continuously filter the blood in order to remove waste products and excess fluid from the body, Maruschak says.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting saturated fats to less than 10 percent of your total daily calories. Main sources include meats, full-fat dairy products, butter, lard, coconut oil, and palm oil, says Maruschak. And try to avoid trans fats, found in baked goods and fried foods. Instead, fill up on heart-healthy unsaturated fats, found in fatty fish, avocados, olives, walnuts, and many types of vegetable oils.
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Talk To Your Doctor About Whether You Need To Limit Phosphorus And Potassium
Phosphorus and potassium are minerals that your body needs for certain processes. Phosphorous helps build strong bones, while potassium helps regulate your heartbeat and keeps your muscles working properly.
If you have CKD, however, these minerals they can build up in your blood, causing problems throughout your body. High levels of phosphorus can pull calcium from your bones, making bones weak and more likely to break, and may cause itchy skin and bone and joint pain. You may need to limit foods high in phosphorous, such as animal protein, dairy, and dark-colored sodas. High levels of potassium can cause heart problems. Your doctor will run blood tests to check your potassium and phosphorus levels. Be sure to ask if youre not sure whether you need to keep tabs on your intake of these minerals.
How Is It Tested
As part of standard blood tests, your doctor can check the creatinine level to assess kidney function. Creatinine is released from muscle cells into the blood stream.
Creatinine is one of the things that the kidneys filter from the blood. If the kidneys start to lose some function, blood creatinine level rises. The creatinine level is used to calculate an estimate of the GFR and provide an estimate of your kidney function.
Most people who have a minor reduction in kidney function can take steps to not keep the kidneys from getting worse. If the function is somewhat low but stable, you may need to see your doctor only once per year. If the GFR is declining or it is already under 50, it’s best to see a kidney doctor, if for no other reason than to become educated.
How high blood pressure damages the kidneys
High blood pressure can cause tiny cracks in the lining of arteries, which provide a breeding ground for fatty deposits that hamper blood flow. As the arteries that feed blood to the kidneys narrow, the body produces renin, a hormone that makes small arteries narrow further. This worsens high blood pressure, causing even more kidney damage. Over time, restricted blood flow can damage or destroy the nephrons, the tiny filtering units inside your kidneys.
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Maintain A Healthy Weight
Excess weight can strain the kidneys and also increase the risk of kidney cancer. People who are obese may experience certain hormonal changes that make them more prone to renal cell carcinoma.
Obesity also contributes to high blood pressure and diabetes, two conditions that make the kidneys work harder and cause damage. High blood pressure, in particular, seems to increase kidney cancer risk, even when you take medicines to control it.
A healthy diet and exercise are important for getting your weight in the healthy range. For a kidney-friendly diet, eat foods low in sodium, phosphorous, and potassium. Go heavier on fresh fruits and vegetables, and lower-protein foods.
Physical activity can also help you shed pounds, keep them off, and lower blood pressure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults strive for 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week. This amounts to 150 minutes of exercise every week. Any type of movement is good, including walking, biking, yoga, and strength training.
Watch Your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol harms your kidneys in several ways, explains Maruschak. Its a waste product that your kidneys have to filter out of your blood and it makes your kidneys less efficient. Its dehydrating, which can affect the kidneys ability to regulate your bodys water levels. It can affect your liver function, which in turn can impact blood flow to the kidneys and lead to CKD over time. And a high alcohol intake has been liked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, which can lead to kidney disease.
Maruschak says both men and women should drink no more than one alcoholic beverage per day. Thats 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Its always best to speak with your physician about your alcohol intake, as some people should not be consuming any alcohol at all, she says.
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Protect Your Kidneys With Healthy Actions
Food is a critical component, but its still only part of the answer to the question of how to prevent kidney failure. Making smart choices and nurturing healthy habits in other areas of your life are just as important.
- Exercise. Any exercise is better than no exercise for people living with CKD. If you get bored going to a gym and lifting weights or using a treadmill, you might choose walking, gardening, yoga, or dancing as an exercise. Even cleaning the house can get your heart rate up and improve blood flow.
- Quit smoking, or dont start. Smoking inhibits blood flow to your organs, including the kidneys. It can also interfere with hypertension medications, cause hardening of the renal arteries, and hasten kidney function decline.
- Monitor and manage your blood sugar and blood pressure. Check them regularly and frequently. In addition to healthy lifestyle habits, make sure that you take any medications prescribed by your physician as directed.
- Get good sleep. Healthy sleep patternsnot too little nor too much, as well as ensuring good qualityis easier said than done for many people, but here are some simple strategies that can help.
- Try turning down the lights as youre getting ready for bed.
- Meditate, or just sit quietly, in a chair for a few minutes with your eyes closed.
- Drink a cup of warm milk or herbal tea.
- Ask your healthcare provider about safe, natural sleep enhancers.