It's kidney awareness day, here is some simple advice and facts with helplines

Kidney Awareness Day

Did you know that today is kidney awareness Day? I have had a quick look at the symptoms of kidney disease and what effect it can have on your body and life.

Apart from getting rid of our nasty bodily waste, the kidneys also help maintain blood pressure, keep the correct levels of chemicals in your body which help your heart and muscles to function properly. They produce the active form of vitamin D that keeps bones healthy and they make erythropoietin, which stimulates production of red blood cells.

So we need them – more importantly, we need them to stay healthy.

Symptoms

  • People can lose weight due to not feeling hungry and having strange metallic tastes in their mouth
  • Feeling poorly and nauseous
  • Swollen ankles, feet or hands – water retention
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blood in your urine. Protein might be detected also but not by sight usually by a doctors test
  • Increased need to urinate, particularly at night
  • Itchy skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • High blood pressure
  • Erectile dysfunction in men (an inability to get or maintain an erection)

- If you’re reading the above and panicking then try not too…a lot of the symptoms are usually due to other issues and not necessarily kidney failure. Still, no matter how small the issue might be, I do suggest contacting your GP.

What is it and how do I know if I have it?

Kidney disease usually effects people as they grow older. It can also cause heart attacks due to the changes in circulation.

A urine or blood test is the usual way that Kidney disease is diagnosed.

Kidney disease is considered even if there is a slight damage to the kidney. It’s not when you have a water infection and it clears up. It means when there is abnormal, long term readings or scan results. Recent research suggests that 1 in 10 of the population may have slight kidney disease.

Kidney failure is considered when there is a reduced kidney function, usually less than 30%. A lot of people feel fine and still live their lives perfectly normally for many years.

Not everyone who has kidney disease will have it develop into kidney failure. But if you have diabetic kidney disease then it is more likely to develop into failure. There are many types of disease though and it all depends on the personal history of the person and their condition as to how it will develop and that is why you must consult and be up to date with your GP/medical team.

Prevention

I’m going to mention it again! EXERCISE! Yes, even with kidney disease it’s still a vital part of your health plan. It keeps you strong and healthy and gives you energy, but again please talk to your GP first and don’t push your body beyond its natural point.

  • Diet – like with heart disease, watch what you’re eating. Eat less salt, fats, and sugar.
  • Foods such as cabbage, garlic, peppers, apples, fish, egg white, berries, olive oil and cranberries are all great for the kidney. They’re good for the Liver too and the heart so it’s a win win!
  • Don’t smoke…or try to cut down.
  • Don’t drink too much.
  • Water is your friend! Drink more of it!
  • Here’s a little tip – cut down of the pain killers especially ones like Ibuprofen.

Try to keep your blood pressure down as it’s one of the causes of kidney disease. So try to not stress and get upset too much if it can be helped. Again watching your diet will also help keep your blood pressure down.

So if you’ve had any of the symptoms for a while and you feel something is just not right, or even if you’ve been getting persistent urine infections that keep clearing up then come back, go to you GP. You won’t regret finding out that it’s nothing compared to how much you’ll regret finding out something is seriously wrong and you’ve wasted time.

Helplines

You can donate to help support kidney research:- Kidney Research

For more support contact: - http://www.kidney.org.uk/helpline (for carers and patients) http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Kidney-disease-chronic/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Danielle Bessant

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