Kidney Disease: Prevention & Health

This information will help you to recognize some of the early warning signs and learn about the major causes of kidney disease. Follow these simple guidelines to help you keep your kidneys healthy, longer.

Kidney education

This education module was designed for people who are at risk of developing kidney disease, namely people with diabetes, high blood pressure or who have a family history of kidney disease. Members of certain ethnic groups are also at higher risk because of the greater incidence of diabetes and high blood pressure. These include people of Aboriginal, Asian, South Asian, Pacific Island, African/Caribbean and Hispanic origin. In some cases, even if you do not fall into one of these groups, you may develop kidney disease. Recent estimates suggest that as many as 2.6 million Canadians have chronic kidney disease (CKD) or are at risk for it – most are unaware of it.
The information provided here will help you to recognize some of the early warning signs and learn about the major causes of kidney disease. It also offers simple guidelines that will help you to keep your kidneys healthy, longer.

Your kidneys

The kidneys are the master chemists of the body. Normally there are two of them, one on either side of the spine under the lower ribs. They are reddish brown in colour and shaped like kidney beans. Each kidney is about the size of your clenched fist.
Healthy kidneys do three essential things. They remove wastes from the blood and return the cleaned blood back to the body. They regulate the levels of water and different minerals needed by the body for good health. They also produce hormones that control other important body functions.

What is chronic kidney disease (CKD)?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is defined as the presence of kidney damage, or a decreased level of kidney function, for a period of three months or more. CKD can be divided into five stages, depending on how severe the damage is to the kidneys, or the level of decrease in kidney function. Not everyone progresses from Stage 1 to Stage 5. In Stage 5, also known as End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD), renal replacement therapy – dialysis or a transplant – is necessary to sustain life.
CKD may develop from a variety of diseases. Currently, there is no cure; but, it is possible to prevent CKD, or delay its progression. This is particularly the case for people with diabetes or high blood pressure, which are the leading causes of kidney failure. The number of people with CKD, but who do not require renal replacement therapy, is not entirely known.


Signs and symptoms of kidney disease

During the early stages, there may be no warning signs or symptoms of kidney disease. In some cases, the problem may go undetected until the kidneys are severely damaged.
Some signs and symptoms that may indicate kidney disease are:
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Persistent generalized itching
  • Puffiness of the eyes, hands and feet
  • Loss of appetite or weight
  • Passage of bloody, cloudy or tea-coloured urine
  • Fatigue, difficulty concentrating
  • Presence of protein in the urine
  • Passing less urine or difficulty passing urine
  • Excessive foaming of the urine
  • Frequent passing of urine during the night
One or more of these signs may mean you have a problem with your kidneys. You may want to discuss this with your family doctor.


Major causes of kidney disease

Kidney disease describes a variety of diseases and disorders that affect the kidneys. Most diseases of the kidney attack the filtering units of the kidney, damaging their ability to eliminate wastes and excess fluids.
Kidneys have millions of filtering units called nephrons. Each nephron is made up of a very small filter called a glomerulus, which is attached to a tubule. Blood flows through these filters, and wastes and extra fluid are filtered and removed in the urine.
Damage to the glomeruli may happen quickly, often as a result of injury or infection. However, most kidney diseases destroy the glomeruli slowly and silently. It may take years or even decades for the damage to become apparent.
There is no single cause of chronic kidney disease. Some forms of the disease may be inherited, while others are acquired.
The two most common causes are diabetes and high blood pressure. Others are glomerulonephritis (nephritis), polycystic kidney disease, urinary tract obstruction, reflux nephropathy, and drug or medication-induced kidney problems. Bacteria such as E. coli and bacterial infections, such as strep throat, are other culprits.

Preventing the progress of kidney disease

Not everyone with chronic kidney disease will progress to end-stage renal disease. Some ways to prevent or minimize the progression of kidney disease are explained in this section.
Many people with CKD find that taking a wellness approach improves their ability to stay fit and maintain a good quality of life.
Wellness is a state of physical, mental and social well-being. Factors that help achieve wellness include:
  • A well-balanced diet
  • Stopping smoking
  • Regular physical activity (ideally 45-60 minutes four to five times per week)
  • Good blood pressure control
  • Good blood glucose control if you have diabetes
  • Weight control
  • Managing anemia (maintaining a normal blood count)
  • Limiting daily alcohol to two drinks or less
  • Taking medications as prescribed


Diet & exercise tips

Eat a healthy diet
People with kidney disease may need to pay attention to the amount of protein, potassium, phosphorous, sodium and fluid they consume. Renal dieticians can help plan a healthy diet that matches eating preferences.
For people with diabetes, nutritional recommendations include consistent timing and composition of meals, and matching meals with the time and action of insulin intake. Changes in diet may also be necessary to help control blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Be physically active
Regular physical activity promotes well-being and can:
  • Lower blood glucose levels
  • Improve cellular response to insulin
  • Improve heart and blood circulation
  • Maintain or stabilize weight
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve blood cholesterol levels
Speak to your doctor before starting an exercise program.


Blood pressure & blood glucose control

Control your blood pressure (BP)
High blood pressure will cause kidney function to deteriorate faster. Blood pressure can be controlled by eating healthy foods, reducing salt intake, maintaining an exercise program, not smoking and not drinking alcohol to excess.
When a person’s blood pressure can’t be reduced through these lifestyle changes, medication is prescribed. There are many choices of blood pressure medication available depending on a person’s situation.
Control your blood sugar (if you have diabetes)
By keeping blood sugar (glucose) as close to normal as possible, the chances of developing kidney disease and other diabetic complications, such as eye and nerve problems, will be minimized. Tight control of blood sugar is very beneficial for most people with early kidney disease and will help to slow its progression.


Other kidney disease tips

Stop smoking
Cigarette smoking is known to be a risk factor for kidney disease, particularly in people with conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Manage anemia
Anemia is a common complication of kidney disease that occurs when the body does not have enough red blood cells. It can be caused by poor diet, excessive bleeding, a chronic illness or a lack of the hormone (erythropoietin) that helps to produce red blood cells.
Treatments vary depending on the cause and include:
  • Dietary changes
  • Diet supplements (iron, vitamin B12, folic acid)
  • Prescription medications (erythropoietin)
  • Blood transfusions


Important information

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Copy content included in this article is © BestLifeRewarded, 2014
Information in this section has been provided by The Kidney Foundation of Canada. The Kidney Foundation of Canada provides trusted, unbiased, science-based information that helps you take control of your own health.
This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your symptoms, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart for more information, and/or contact your doctor.
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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