Before we get down to what kidney failure is, I think it’s imperative that we first of all, understand what the kidney is (does).
The kidneys are the two bean-like structures located toward the back of the abdominal region, usually one on either side of the spine– designed to perform protective and balancing functions for the body. They are designed to detoxify (filter) the blood, and make it safe for the body’s use, get rid of unwanted waste, balance the electrolyte levels in the body, control pressure, as well as stimulate the production of red blood cells. The kidneys get their blood supply through the renal arteries; directly from the aorta and send blood back to the heart via the renal veins to the vena cava.
Now that we know what the kidneys are, and do, we can proceed to KIDNEY FAILURE. As the name suggests, kidney failure is simply the inability of the kidney(s) to carry out its normal functions in the body— this can be as a result of a disease or an infection in the kidney(s) that failed to be detected on time.
The symptoms of a failed (failing) kidney can vary, depending on the victim; however, there are general signs that come with the condition. They are…
1. Changes in urination
The kidneys make urine, so when they are failing, (or fail), one may experience the following urinary changes…
– You may have to get up at night to urinate.
– Urine may be foamy or bubbly.
– You may urinate more often, or in greater amounts than usual, with pale urine.
– You may urinate less often, or in smaller amounts than usual, with dark-coloured urine.
– Your urine may contain blood.
– You may feel pressure or have difficulty urinating.
When the kidneys fail, they stop performing their normal body functions, which includes balancing the fluid level in the body, as well as getting rid of waste. What this means is that the waste and excess fluid that otherwise would be passed out as urine, are retained in the body, which results in swelling around noticeable parts of the body, like the face, the ankles, and feet.
As stated earlier, one of the functions of the kidneys is to facilitate the production of red blood cells which help to keep the body strong, agile, and generally healthy. In the absence of a healthy kidney, the body cannot make red blood cells; in other words, anaemia creeps in. This makes you feel tired and weak too easily.
It is common for people with kidney problems to have memory difficulties like forgetfulness and inability to focus on something. This is due to the brain’s inability to get enough oxygen.
5. Rashes and itching
The kidneys remove wastes from the bloodstream. When the kidneys fail, the build-up of wastes in your blood can cause severe itching.
6. Loss of appetite
A sudden loss of appetite along with bad breath can suggest that your kidneys need urgent care.
7. Shortened breathing
Trouble catching your breath can be related to the kidneys in two ways. First, extra fluid in the body can build up in the lungs. And second, anaemia (a shortage of oxygen-carrying red blood cells) can leave your body oxygen-starved and short of breath.
8. Weight loss
Unexplained weight loss can result from insufficient feeding, due to loss of appetite.
People suffering from the condition may experience chills or a cold, even in a hot weather.
Kidney disorders are accompanied by severe pains in the abdominal region, and sometimes, the pain extends to the back — just around the place where the affected kidney is situated.
Now that you know what symptoms are associated with kidney failure and disorders, let us proceed to those habits that can expose you to the condition.
1. Delayed urination
You’re engaged in something really important, and you’re seriously pressed, but you want to finish what you’re doing before you go on to empty your bladder — this is a very common scenario among young people, but unknown to many, it is a highway to damaging the kidneys. The urine that stays in the bladder multiplies bacteria quickly. Once the urine refluxes back to the ureter and kidneys, the toxic substances can result in kidney infections, then urinary tract infections, and then nephritis, and even uraemia. This is why you must empty the bladder whenever we’re prompted to by our body.
2. Excessive consumption of salt
Salt in the body is potentially harmful to the kidneys if they’re not checked. It is advised that you consume only a little above 5 grams of salt daily.
3. Excessive consumption of meat and foods rich in protein
Protein is good, but when it’s in excess, it can be harmful for your kidneys. This is because at digestion, protein produces ammonia – a toxin that is very destructive to your kidneys…so more protein equals more kidney damage.
4. Excessive intake of caffeine
All those sodas and soft drinks you consume have a great concentration of caffeine in them. Caffeine can trigger a rise in blood pressure, and once this happens, the kidneys suffer. Check the content of what you take into your body, and be mindful of the quantity.
5. Inadequate consumption of water
The kidneys ought to be hydrated adequately, to ensure that they perform their functions properly. When you don’t drink enough water, toxins can start accumulating in the blood, as there isn’t enough fluid to drain them through the kidneys. This is why experts recommend that you drink at least 10 glasses of water daily.
Finally, I want to add that once you notice any unusual thing about the functionality of your body, consult your physician as quickly as possible. Kidney disorders can be easily reversed if detected early enough. Do not wait until your kidneys fail completely before your find a remedy, it may already be too late by then. They say health is wealth; treat yours like a precious jewel.