In Focus

Keep your kidneys healthy

Updated: Mar 15, 2022 Print
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The 2022 World Kidney Day (WKD) themed “Kidney Health for All” was on Mar 10. The WKD is a global campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of our kidneys.

What bad habits will hurt the kidneys? What good habits can protect them and make them healthier? On the occasion of the WKD, let's learn some health tips.

1. Warning signs from kidneys

Body swelling: Body swelling is a common symptom of kidney diseases. Different people may experience varying degrees of swelling, from slight swelling of cheeks and eyes in the morning, to swelling of the whole body.

Hematuria and proteinuria: Hematuria can be divided into gross hematuria and microscopic hematuria. Gross hematuria refers to blood in urine visible to the naked eye.

Microscopic hematuria indicates the increase of red blood cells in urine visible under the microscope.

Proteinuria refers to increased levels of protein in the urine. Foamy urine, mainly small bubbles that won’t dissipate for a long time, suggests proteinuria.

High blood pressure: High blood pressure is closely related to kidneys. It can damage their structure and functions.

Elevated level of creatinine: The level of creatinine is an indicator of kidney functions. Its rise means that kidneys have been seriously damaged.

Loss of appetite: Kidney diseases will lead to poor excretion of toxins in the body, and result in loss of appetite.

Anemia: The degree of anemia is often related to the degrees of kidney dysfunction.

2. Unhealthy living habits can damage kidneys

Kidney damage
Kidney damage includes acute kidney injury and chronic kidney injury. They have similar symptoms including the rise of creatinine, changes in urine volume and anemia.

The common causes of acute kidney injury include dehydration and gastrointestinal bleeding, urinary tract obstruction, acute nephritis, rapid nephritis, drug-induced kidney injury and severe infection, as well as crush injuries caused by earthquakes.

The common causes of chronic kidney diseases include chronic glomerulonephritis, diabetic nephropathy, hypertensive kidney damage, kidney stones, drug-induced kidney damage, polycystic kidney disease, and gout.

Kidney damage will result in the accumulation of metabolites in the body, anemia, bone disease, reduced urine output, heart failure, and neurological symptoms.

Unhealthy living habits

High-salt diet
A high-salt diet will lead to high pressure, high perfusion and high filtration of glomerulus, which will increase the burden on kidneys.

Overuse of medicines
Medicines are excreted through kidneys. Too many kinds of medicines and large doses will damage kidneys and lead to renal dysfunction, such as tetracycline, streptomycin, gentamicin, painkillers and some anti-cancer drugs.
Some traditional Chinese medicines also have side effects, and a few, such as those containing aristolochic acid, have serious nephrotoxicity.

Too much sweet and greasy food will increase the burden on kidneys, and lead to obesity. People who have obesity are at a higher risk of developing diabetes, and about 40% of diabetic patients suffer from diabetic nephropathy.

Eating a lot of seafood can sometimes lead to acute kidney injury. Seafood is high in protein and purine. When consumed with beer, it will produce too many metabolites such as uric acid and urea nitrogen, increase the burden on kidneys, and easily lead to hyperuricemia, even kidney stones and uremia.

Misuse of diuretics
Improper use of diuretics may cause insufficient fluid volume in the body and lead to renal ischemia, which can cause impaired kidney functions. Excessive use of diuretics can also cause damage to the distal convoluted tubules of kidneys, as well as renal dysfunction.

3. Protect your kidneys by healthy eating and exercising

Eat less salt and animal offal
Patients with kidney diseases should consume less salt, less purine and less protein. Sometimes they need a low potassium diet, but not low-sodium salt. The content of sodium ion in low-sodium salt is small, but some potassium ions are added. Patients with poor renal functions have decreased potassium excretion ability. Eating low-sodium salt may cause hyperkalemia, slow heartbeat or even cardiac arrest.

Rational fitness
Strenuous exercise or sudden exercise after long-term inactivity such as marathon, rowing, mountain climbing, weight lifting can cause rhabdomyolysis and sometimes acute kidney injury.

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