March is National Kidney Month . . .
Take some time to learn how you can keep your kidneys functioning properly and keep them as healthy as possible at every stage of life.
- Hydrate, – but don’t overdo it. While it’s always a good idea to drink enough water, drinking more than the typical four to six glasses a day probably won’t help your kidneys do their job any better.
- Eat healthy foods. Most kidney problems arise out of other medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. Because of this, you should follow healthy, moderate eating habits to control weight and blood pressure.
- Exercise regularly. If you’re healthy, getting your exercise is a good idea because, like healthy eating habits, regular physical activity can stave off weight gain and high blood pressure.
- Use caution with supplements and herbal remedies. Excessive amounts of certain vitamin supplements and some herbal extracts may be harmful to your kidneys. Talk to your doctor about any vitamins and herbs you plan to take.
- Quit smoking. Smoking can damage blood vessels, which decreases the flow of blood in the kidneys. When the kidneys don’t have adequate blood flow, they can’t function at optimal levels. Smoking also increases the risk of high blood pressure as well as the risk of kidney cancer.
- Don’t overdo it when taking over-the-counter medications. Common non-prescription pills like ibuprofen and naproxen (NSAID’s) can cause kidney damage if taken too regularly over a prolonged period. If you have healthy kidneys and use these medicines for occasional pain, they probably don’t pose a risk. But if you take them for chronic pain or arthritis, you should talk to your doctor about monitoring your kidney function or finding alternative ways to control your pain.
- If you’re at risk, get regular kidney function screenings. If you have either diabetes or high blood pressure, your physician should screen for kidney dysfunction as part of routine care for those conditions.
Did you know that often, your kidneys simply become affected by other medical conditions. The most important thing you can do to keep your kidneys safe is to take care of your body to reduce your chances of developing diseases that put a strain on your kidneys.
Changes in urination. These changes may include urinating more or less often without there being other explanations, urinating blood, feeling pressure when urinating, not feeling like you are able to urinate enough, feeling like you have not gotten all of the urine out, or having urine that is bubbly or foamy.
Swelling in extremities. Swelling in your hands, ankles, legs, face, or feet can be caused by the extra fluid that builds up throughout the body because kidneys that are not functioning properly are not able to filter the extra fluid out of the body.
Fatigue. Part of the natural function of kidneys is to produce erythropoietin, a hormone that is responsible for triggering the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. The oxygen in red blood cells provides energy to the muscles and the brain. When the kidneys stop working properly, they are not able to bring enough red blood cells to the muscles or brain, causing them to tire quickly and not build up enough energy even after resting.
Skin irritation. Kidneys are responsible for removing waste and toxins from the bloodstream. If they are not operating properly, these toxins build up in the blood and can lead to major irritation, including serious itching and rashes.
If you would like more information on Kidney Disease or any other topic on healthy aging, contact VITALity Catholic Healthcare Services at 1-888-26-VITALity (1-888-268-4825) or go to our website at vitality.camdendiocese.org.