Take care of your kidneys (Warnings and Prevention)

What harms the kidneys?

Sudden blood loss, sudden drop in blood pressure, poisoning, drug abuse – all of these can lead to acute kidney failure. People who take painkillers regularly put their kidneys at risk, as does those who are frequently treated with intravenous antibiotics.

However, many of these treatments are unavoidable. That is why it is particularly important to have your kidney function monitored by a specialist if you are taking your medication regularly.

Fluid deficiency – the reasons

Kidney problems caused by dehydration are most common among elderly people who have drunk too little. Mostly they have taken dehydrating tablets – for good reason and to support their heart – and suffer from acute fluid deficiency if they drink too little. This causes the kidneys to partially stop functioning. These people have “run dry”, so to speak.

Treatment of fluid deficiency

Such symptoms are relatively easy to treat: The doctor gives the patient a salt and water solution directly into the vein, then the kidneys resume their work relatively quickly.

Tip for healthy kidneys: Drinking is the be-all and end-all
One to one and a half liters per day should be drunk. According to Prof. Mann, very old people often drink too little. This is due to the fact that the sensation of thirst decreases with age. The only thing that helps is:

To impose rules on oneself.
Monitor the amount you drink.
Warning signals
With most kidney diseases, it takes a long time for proper symptoms to occur. In the early stages of kidney disease, many sufferers do not really feel ill. The first signs are so general that they are rarely classified correctly:

Loss of appetite,
rarely nausea or vomiting.
Hands and feet may swell or feel numb.
Kidney colics
Kidney diseases that cause immediate discomfort are renal colics.

Inflammation of the kidneys can also be accompanied by fever and pain. Pain radiating towards the bladder is typical.

Colour of the urine

In kidney inflammation, the urine can be reddish, i.e. bloody.
In inflammation of the renal pelvis, the urine is often cloudy.
If a lot of protein is excreted (a sign of a kidney malfunction), the urine sometimes also foams.
Important: Normally, urine (depending on how much you have drunk) should be whitish, yellowish or brownish – but never reddish.

Tip: Beware of high blood pressure

Those who suffer from high blood pressure or diabetes – these diseases often occur together – must pay particular attention to the health of their kidneys.

Chronic illnesses come creepingly

People with chronic, slow-running kidney diseases have noticeable symptoms relatively late. The first thing kidney patients sometimes notice is that they have to go to the toilet more often than before. The kidneys simply cannot concentrate the fluid as well as they used to. As a healthy person, a minimum of half a litre of urine per day is sufficient to eliminate all harmful substances. As a kidney sufferer you need considerably more urine: Two litres and more are sometimes needed to detoxify properly. Patients often notice this at night when they can no longer sleep through because they have to go to the toilet in between.

Diabetes: number one risk factor for the kidneys

At least six percent of the population in Germany suffer from so-called old-age diabetes (type II diabetes), and the number is increasing. A high blood sugar level for years is a great danger for all small vessels of the body. Even the tiny kidney corpuscles can be damaged by the high sugar content in the blood. They then let through substances (such as protein) which they should not let through. Therefore, a high protein content in the urine is always a warning signal for people with diabetes.

How diabetes damages the kidneys

In the next stage, the renal corpuscles slowly cease to function. They become desolate and scarred, as you can see under the microscope. If the kidney is completely scarred, the patient has to undergo dialysis. About one third of all dialysis patients in Germany go to the so-called artificial kidney because their blood sugar is too high. That’s 2,000 to 3,000 people a year.

Congenital kidney disease: cystic kidneys

Five to ten percent of all dialysis patients suffer from cystic kidneys: The tubular apparatus of the renal corpuscles has no exit. In the course of a patient’s life, they are filtered into a “blind bag” that is constantly growing – larger and larger cysts are formed. If the rest of the kidney functions well, this is not serious. But as the cysts continue to grow, they compress the rest of the tissue: The kidney breaks down. Since the cysts are too numerous, they cannot be removed surgically. So far, cyst growth cannot be slowed down.

Background: The disease can be inherited dominantly. This means that if one parent has cystic kidneys, they are statistically passed on to five out of ten children.

You have two kidneys. These are bean-shaped and about the size of your fist. The kidneys are located on both sides of the spine at about medium back height. Most people think that the kidneys are only for urine production.

In fact, the kidneys produce urine and divert it through the urinary tract. Excess water and toxins from metabolic processes are removed from the body with the urine as if through a filter. The acid-base balance of the body is also regulated by the kidneys to prevent overacidification of the blood.

Hormone production also gives the kidneys an important function in regulating blood pressure. Hormones formed in the kidneys, such as erythropoietin, control the formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow. The kidneys also have an influence on the calcium concentration in the blood and the formation of vitamin D. The kidneys also have an influence on the calcium concentration in the blood and the formation of vitamin D. This vitamin is required for mineralization, which in turn serves bone stability.

Did you know that?

The kidneys remove excess water and waste products from the body 24 hours a day.

Healthy kidneys clean the blood about 300 times a day
This means that an average of 1,500 litres of blood flow through the kidneys every day.

What triggers chronic kidney disease?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a long and usually gradual process in which the kidneys slowly lose their ability to function.
At first, you may not have noticed that you have a chronic kidney disease, because the early signs are often not very pronounced; you may not have had any symptoms at all.

Kidney failure is usually diagnosed after a blood test that measures BUN, creatinine and glomerular filtration rate (GFR). It is estimated how much blood flows through the glomeruli per minute. Glomeruli are the small filter bodies in the kidney that filter waste products from the blood.

Chronic kidney diseases are divided into 5 stages.

It can take many years from a slightly reduced kidney function (CKD stage 1) to kidney failure (CKD stage 5). A chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a permanent damage of the kidneys, which can be caused e.g. by diabetes or high blood pressure (hypertension). However, various infections of the kidney tissue (glomerulonephritis) and excessive medication can also lead to a long-term loss of kidney function.

As the course of the disease may be delayed in the early stages, it is important to diagnose chronic kidney diseases early on and to find the right treatment together with your doctor.

Signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease
You should be aware that warning signals and symptoms of chronic kidney disease are often ambiguous. Many patients suffer from chronic kidney disease without knowing it.

What can be warning signals?

Lower urine production
Swelling of hands, face and legs
shortness of breath
loss of appetite, nausea/vomiting
High blood pressure
Freezing and fatigue
The earlier you know, the better your doctor can react and find a suitable treatment for you. The right measures at the right time can have a significant impact on the course of kidney disease.

What can be done to prevent chronic kidney failure?
In addition to various treatments, lifestyle changes can also slow the progression of chronic kidney disease.

Monitoring elevated blood pressure and blood sugar levels
Healthy diet / low protein diet / low salt diet
3 x 30 min. aerobics
quit smoking
Avoidance of certain pain medications
However, all measures should be discussed with the doctor and should be carried out under medical supervision.