Compared with other illnesses such as cancer and heart disease, kidney disease receives relatively little attention in the media and society at large. This is unfortunate because kidney diseases often come with few early warning signs. Furthermore, they can develop at any age.
On an average, one in ten people suffers from kidney damage at some point in their lives. This means that we all need to take kidney health more seriously and take as many preventative measures as possible.
In this article, you will learn about one of the most commonly-diagnosed kidney diseases, and how you can ensure that your kidneys remain in good shape.
What is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?
CKD is a fairly common condition in which one or both kidneys fail to work properly. It often goes unnoticed in the early stages. People are generally only diagnosed with CKD if a blood or urine test happens to be carried out for another purpose. During the later stages of CKD, a patient may feel tired, notice that their feet or hands are swollen, report feeling sick on a regular basis and see blood in their urine.
CKD can be caused by a variety of conditions that increase the kidneys’ workload. For example, diabetes and high blood pressure both demand that the kidneys work harder and this can result in long-term damage. Eventually, a person’s kidneys may show signs of greatly impaired functioning or may even stop working altogether. CKD is also linked to other negative health outcomes such as stroke and heart attack.
How to Treat Chronic Kidney Disease?
There is currently no cure for CKD. Instead, the emphasis is placed upon symptom management and retaining a good quality of life for the patient wherever possible.
In the cases of severely reduced kidney functioning, it may be necessary for a patient to receive regular kidney dialysis (in which a patient’s blood needs to be diverted through a machine to be cleaned because the kidneys can no longer perform this vital function) or even a kidney transplant. These measures can be inconvenient and financially costly.
However, many patients can gain control over their CKD and provided they take care of themselves can expect to lead relatively normal lives.
How can Kidney Disease be Prevented?
Fortunately, you can lower your risk of CKD and other kidney diseases by striving to live a healthy lifestyle. Since kidney disease is often the result of the kidneys being forced to work harder due to the presence of another chronic disease, it is a good idea to focus on the commonly recommended lifestyle strategies that keep the body in a state of overall health.
1. A Healthy Diet:
Diet plays a key role in the prevention of kidney problems and other major illnesses. Base your diet around vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and whole grains. Take care not to exceed recommended government levels of sugar, saturated fat and salt. DaVita, an organization for kidney patients and those keen to learn more about kidney health, has some great free recipes you can check out on their site.
2. Reduced Alcohol Intake:
Limit your alcohol intake to one or two drinks per day, and try to abstain entirely for one or two days each week.
3. Quit Smoking:
Do not smoke. If you are finding it hard to cut down on cigarettes, contact your doctor for advice on how to quit smoking.
4. Regular Health Checkups:
It is also important to get any other health conditions under control. For example, if you have high blood pressure it is vital that you attend regular check-ups as recommended by your healthcare provider and remain diligent in taking any medication you are prescribed.
5. Regular Moderate Exercise:
Finally, exercise has been shown to prevent or improve many chronic conditions. You should aim for at least 150 minutes of medium-intensity exercise every week. Find a sport or workout style you enjoy, as this means you are more likely to stick to your new schedule.
Not only will you reduce your risk of CKD, but you will also give yourself the best possible chance of avoiding other long-term conditions that commonly afflict people in the western world such as diabetes and heart disease.
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