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Do you take care of your kidneys?  Well, you should: here’s how to do it

Do you take care of your kidneys? Well, you should: here’s how to do it

Do you take care of your kidneys?  Well, you should: here’s how to do it

People rarely notice problems with this pair of organs until the problem is already present, the expert warns

When we talk about keeping our organs healthy, the Heart and the brain get all the attention, for obvious reasons. however, the kidneys they also require the same consideration.

The pair of organs, located on either side of the spine, just below the rib cage, perform many essential functions. They direct blood through a complex filtration system that removes toxins and balances levels of fluid, salt and other minerals. The kidneys also help regulate blood pressure and aid in the production of red blood cells.

The number one health problem for the kidneys is chronic kidney disease (CKD), an irreversible decline in kidney function. In chronic kidney disease, the kidneys become so damaged over time that they have difficulty performing all their essential jobs. People with advanced chronic kidney disease need a machine to filter their blood (a treatment called dialysis) or receive a kidney transplant.

“Unfortunately, people don’t notice any signs of kidney problems until chronic kidney disease has already occurred,” says Harvard-affiliated nephrologist J. Kevin Tucker at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital.

Is protein really bad for your kidneys?

Concern remains that excessive protein consumption is harmful to the kidneys and increases the risk of developing or worsening chronic kidney disease (CKD). The idea is that high amounts overload the kidneys, leading to permanent damage.

However, this can be a dilemma for people elder, who need extra protein to help manage age-related muscle loss. So what is the evidence? “This is a controversial area,” Tucker says.

“There is no clear evidence that people without chronic kidney disease or those with mild disease should restrict protein. There may be special situations in people with very advanced chronic kidney disease for whom protein restriction may be helpful. Patients with kidney failure chronic kidney disease should discuss this with their nephrologist.”

Diagnosis of the disease

Checking the kidneys is especially important for people with diabetes or high blood pressure. In people with diabetes, too much glucose in the blood damages kidney filters. High blood pressure can damage the organ’s blood vessels.

Chronic kidney disease is diagnosed when a blood test shows a high level of creatinine (a byproduct of metabolism in muscle tissue) or a urine test reveals a large amount of a protein called albumin. The level of creatinine in the blood is used to calculate the glomerular filtration rate (GFR), which reflects how effectively the kidneys filter the blood. As CKD worsens, the creatinine level increases and GFR decreases. In many people with diabetes or high blood pressure, the urine albumin test becomes abnormal even before the GFR begins to decline.

If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, your doctor should test your kidney function annually. Otherwise, there is no general recommendation for screening for kidney disease. “If you are at risk for diabetes, hypertension or heart disease, or if you have a family history of kidney failure, talk to your doctor about how often you should get tested,” advises Tucker.

Slow the decline

Once chronic kidney disease is confirmed, the damage cannot be reversed, but medications can slow the rate of kidney decline. “The goal of chronic kidney disease is to live a long time with reduced kidney function so as to avoid the need for dialysis or kidney replacement,” Tucker says.

The two classes of drugs used to treat chronic kidney disease are ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). They help relax the blood vessels in the kidneys, improving their function. The drugs also slow damage to the small filters in the kidneys and discourage protein from leaking into the urine. More recently, a class of drugs initially designed to treat diabetes, called SGLT-2 inhibitors, has been found to help prevent kidney damage, even in people without diabetes.

Protect your kidneys

According to Tucker, there is no secret ingredient to avoiding chronic kidney disease other than healthy living. “If you maintain good blood sugar and blood pressure levels and improve your cardiovascular health, you preserve kidney health,” she says. This includes losing excess weight, reducing sodium intake, adopting a plant-based diet, and getting at least 150 minutes of exercise. exercise of moderate intensity per week. These other lifestyle behaviors can also reduce your risk:

  • Limit your intake of alcohol: do not drink more than one drink a day. Regular and excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of hypertension, contributes to weight gain and makes the kidneys work harder.
  • Stay hydrated: Getting enough fluids every day helps your kidneys eliminate toxins from your body. In general, most healthy people should drink about 15 glasses of fluids per day, including plain water and beverages such as tea, coffee, and fruit juice, as well as foods that contain high amounts of water, such as fruits, vegetables, and soups.
  • Limit over-the-counter pain relievers: Taking high doses of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can cause kidney damage and worsen existing chronic kidney disease. “Use these medications sparingly,” Tucker says. “If you need to take them every day, consult your doctor.”

©Copyright 2024 by Harvard University. For more information, visit: https://www.health.harvard.edu/

Distributed by The New York Times Licensing Group

This content was translated with the help of artificial intelligence tools and reviewed by our editorial team. Find out more in our Artificial Intelligence Policy.

Source: Terra

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