The main function of the kidneys is to remove waste products and excess water from the blood. The kidneys process about 200 liters of blood every day and produce about 2 liters of urine. The waste products are generated from normal metabolic processes including the breakdown of active tissues, ingested foods, and other substances. The kidneys allow consumption of a variety of foods, drugs, vitamins, dietary and herbal supplements, food additives, and excess fluids without worry that toxic by-products will build up to harmful levels. The kidney also plays a major role in regulating levels of various minerals such as calcium, sodium, and potassium in the blood.
Each year, more than half a million people go to emergency rooms for kidney stone problems. It is estimated that one in ten people will have a kidney stone at some time in their lives.
The prevalence of kidney stones in the United States increased from 3.8% in the late 1970s to 8.8% in the late 2000s. This increase was seen in both men and women, and both whites and blacks. The lifetime risk of kidney stones is about 19% in men and 9% in women. In men, the first episode is most likely to occur after age 30, but it can occur earlier. Other diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity may increase the risk for kidney stones.
Source: National Kidney Foundation
Tips to Keep your Kidneys Healthy
- Keep your blood pressure at the target set by your health care provider. For most people, the blood pressure target is less than 140/90 mm Hg. This can delay or prevent kidney failure.
- If you have diabetes, control your blood glucose level.
- Keep your cholesterol levels in the target range.
- Take medicines the way your provider tells you to. (Important! Certain blood pressure medicines called ACE inhibitors and ARBs may protect your kidneys. Ask your health care provider for more information.)
- Cut back on salt. Aim for less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day.
- Choose foods that are healthy for your heart: fresh fruits, fresh or frozen vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
- Be more physically active.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- If you smoke, take steps to quit. Cigarette smoking can make kidney damage worse.
Finding a Kidney Doctor
Choosing a Kidney Doctor When You Have Kidney Disease
When you’re diagnosed with early stage kidney disease, you may need to visit a kidney specialist (also called a nephrologist ). With just a little research, you can find the nephrologist that fits your needs when you need help in retaining kidney function for as long as possible.
Why is it important to see a kidney doctor?
Although your primary care physician (PCP) is trained to handle a wide range of health conditions, a kidney doctor has been trained as an expert in kidney function and diseases of the kidney.
When should I start seeing a kidney doctor?
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD), you’ll want to find a kidney doctor as soon as possible. A nephrologist can run diagnostic tests to determine the current stage of your kidneys and prescribe the best treatment course for your stage of CKD.
Source: DaVita HealthCare