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The Importance of Looking Out for Your Kidneys

By Christina2 - March 26, 2014

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Once we're firmly in adulthood (30 to 35), our kidneys start to lose a bit of their function at a rate of about .5 percent a year. This makes them more susceptible to diseases and illnesses they may have otherwise fought off, and in seniors, it's particularly important to take care of kidneys. Even though we've got two, it doesn't mean they can be ignored or tended to half as much as other organs.

Function of Kidneys

Kidneys have five main functions, and can be sorted according by either balancing or filtering.

  • Balancing: Keeping body acids at a healthy level; ensuring there's enough water in body and compensating when there isn't; keeping blood pressure at a liveable level; releasing a hormone for bone marrow to make more red blood cells when oxygen levels in the kidneys are low.
  • Filtering: Takes liquids and "cleans" them, sending "good" blood back into the body and releasing the waste as urea to be released as urine.
  • Although it may not seem like kidneys are all that important because there are two of them and we can donate one (and be relatively fine after), they do a pretty important job. Read on to find out what happens when the kidneys don't work as they should.

    Kidney Dysfunction and Failure

    When kidneys don't operate like they're normally supposed to, it can be divided into acute kidney failure and chronic kidney disease. Neither is particularly good news, but the distinction is made between the kidneys failing suddenly (the former) or falling into disrepair for three months or more.

    Acute Kidney Failure

    Healthline says that acute kidney failure can have many reasons behind it, with seven main causes:

  • Pregnancy complications
  • Infections
  • Autoimmune kidney disorders
  • Low blood pressure leading to lower than normal blood flow
  • Blood-clotting disorders
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Death of the cells that deliver urine to the ureters (acute tubular necrosis)
  • Chronic Kidney Disease

    This describes the kidneys' inability to cope at a permanent level for at least three months, and can lead to kidney failure if it's not looked after properly. Two common consequences of kidney failure are dialysis or transplant. Here's how it can be caused:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Although many things can cause chronic kidney disease, the above two are by far the most common ones.

    Warning Signs

    When your kidneys aren't operating as they should, this is what you should watch out for.

    Beginning signs:

  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Blood in your urine (hematuria)
  • Frequent (nightly) urination
  • Urination that may be painful or difficult
  • Eye puffiness
  • Peripheral edema
  • Advanced signs:

  • Nausea and vomiting/li>
  • Hiccups
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Interrupted sleep or difficulty sleeping
  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent cough
  • Generalized swelling
  • Itching
  • Muscle cramping
  • Kidneys are more important they may seem. If any of these signs apply to you, make sure to see your doctor right away before it's too late.