Kidneys remove the waste materials from the body through urine. If the kidneys don’t do their job, toxins begin to build up in your body and in a matter of a couple of days, your body begins to go into a shock that may be difficult to recover from. Kidneys also clean your blood of impurities. Aside from these, your kidneys are also responsible for removing drugs from your body, balancing the body’s fluids, releasing hormones that regulate blood pressure and releasing a special form of Vitamin D to keep your bones strong. Hence, if something goes wrong with your kidneys, your body can experience lots of problems. Whenever you experience kidney-problem-related symptoms, you should promptly get a kidney test done. Kidneys are located on either side of the spine at the lowest level of the rib cage. They are the size of a fist. Kidneys consist of millions of functioning units called nephrons (a kidney doctor is called a nephrologist). Every nephron contains tiny blood vessels through which
Functioning kidneys filter about half a cup of blood every minute. It removes extra waste and extra water from the blood to make urine. This urine then flows to the bladder from the kidneys. The bladder stores the urine and when there is enough pressure, you release it out of your body.
Aside from removing extra waste and fluids from your body, your kidneys also remove the acid that is produced by the cells of your body. It also helps your body maintain a healthy balance between water, salts and other minerals such as sodium, phosphorus, potassium and calcium, in your blood. The kidneys also make hormones that control your blood pressure, make red blood cells and keep your bones healthy and strong.
Different types of kidney problems
Your kidneys may get damaged, becoming incapable of performing their functions. This damage may be caused by diabetes, high blood pressure or other chronic conditions. The kidney damage further causes problems like nerve damage, malnutrition and weak bones. If the condition worsens, your kidneys may stop working altogether. In such cases, dialysis performs the function of the kidneys. The dialysis treatment filters and purifies the blood via a machine. You may get the dialysis done twice or thrice a week, as long as you live.
Some symptoms of kidney diseases include
Sleeplessness or trouble sleeping
High blood pressure
Blood in urine
Swelling ankles or feet
A big problem with kidney disease may be that even if 10% of your kidneys are functioning, you may go on with your life without realising. Therefore, it is extremely critical that you get your kidney test done as soon as some of the symptoms begin to manifest.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the process of getting a kidney test done?
The various kidney tests may include the serum uric acid test, mineral test, serum urea test and serum creatinine test, and maybe some additional tests advised by your doctor or nephrologist. In most of the cases, a phlebotomist visits you and draws your blood from your arm in a completely harmless manner. It is also called a serum sample. This serum sample is then submitted to the lab. But sometimes, some tests also require a urine sample. But more than submitting a serum and urine sample, there is nothing more you need to do to get your kidney tests done from the lab
Why is a kidney test important?
Your kidneys are one of the most important organs in your body. Every major function depends on your kidneys whether it is keeping your bones strong, assisting the production of red blood cells or filtering and cleaning your blood. If your kidneys stop functioning, toxins begin to build up, your bones break easily and there isn’t enough oxygen in your body. A big problem is that even if 10% of your kidneys are working, you may not realize how serious the problem is. Hence, even if the smallest of indications begin to show that you may be having some sort of kidney problem, you should urgently get a kidney test done. The problems of kidneys should never be taken lightly.
What types of different kidney diseases are there?
The most common kidney disease is chronic kidney disease. It is a long-term problem and it doesn’t improve over time. It is caused by high blood pressure. As you have read above, one of the functions of the kidneys is to clean blood. There are tiny vessels in the kidneys. When the blood pressure is high, these vessels begin to get damaged and the kidney function begins to decline. Eventually, the kidneys can no longer perform their job and the patient needs to switch to dialysis. There is an option of kidney transplant but you need to wait for a donor and even then, it is never sure whether your body is going to accept the kidney or not. Diabetes too can result in kidney failure because your kidney needs to process extra sugar on an ongoing basis. Kidney stone is another kidney problem. Minerals and other substances in the blood crystallize and get deposited inside the kidneys as solid masses, which are called stones. Usually they exit via urine but sometimes medical intervention is needed. Urinary tract infection is a bacterial infection and although they happen in the bladder and urethra, they can spread to kidneys and cause the kidneys to fail.
How do I know that I have kidney disease?
Every illness has its symptoms and so does kidney disease. Though, your doctor may be in a better position to evaluate your symptoms and point out exactly what problem you are facing. Nonetheless, when you are suffering from kidney disease, you may experience the following symptoms: Swollen feet Bone weakness Difficulty in concentrating Frequent urge to urinate Dry and itchy skin Loss of appetite Foamy urine Puffiness around the eyes Muscle cramps Trouble sleeping Please remember that these symptoms can also originate from another disease or ailment inside your body and therefore it is important that you fix up an appointment with your doctor and get his or her advice on the best kidney test that you should have.
Is there a way I can prevent kidney disease?
There are many factors that can cause kidney disease and there are certainly some factors that you can control. For example, blood pressure can cause kidney disease. Hence, if you can keep your blood pressure in control you can also keep kidney disease at bay. Don’t eat food that increases your blood pressure. Practice meditation. Take medication to keep your blood pressure low. Similarly, diabetes can lead to kidney failure. Follow a lifestyle that keeps your blood sugar in check. If there are symptoms of diabetes, control your intake of sugar and other sweetened drinks. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Remain active. These measures can help you prevent kidney disease to a great extent.