It is important to keep your kidneys clean | Western Cape Government

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It is important to keep your kidneys clean

6 September 2022

Most of us do not think of the health of our kidneys, but they are more important than what we give them credit for. As National Kidney Awareness Week (5-9 September 2022) is commemorated, Tygerberg Hospital reminds residents of the many ways that they can keep their kidneys healthy and reduce the risk of hospitalisation. Last year, the hospital treated approximately 11 160 kidney patients at the outpatients. 

Kidneys filter about half a cup of blood every minute, that’s 180 liters per day. Constantly “cleansing” the body, ridding it of extra water, excrete salts and harmful acids. They maintain blood pressure, regulate hormones, aid in the making of red blood cells and aid in the growth and maintenance of bones.

Because of the importance of these organs, things can easily go wrong. Encountering problems with your kidneys is sometimes common such as: urinary tract infection which has result in issues with the body’s drainage system, affecting the bladder, and the developing of kidney stones.  According to Dr Christel du Buisson, paediatric nephrologist at the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital, “Children born with abnormally formed kidneys and urinary tracts may have these issues. This condition is usually detected in the womb during ultrasound (sonar) or shortly after birth. The infection may cause fever and some pain and discomfort around the lower abdominal and back area. Not to worry though because, these problems are usually detected early because of the severity of the pain.”

The diseases that cause pain and show symptoms may be serious but the ones that people need to be worried about are the ones that have no signs. 

Which begs the question: what are these silent diseases? 

They are, very well known.  These are ‘the usual suspects’: hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, obesity, and smoking. The reason the kidneys get affected is actually very easy to understand. Each kidney consists of millions of tiny blood vessels or capillaries, anything that injures these little vessels cause them to be susceptible to disease.  Each one of the diseases damage those vessels, and gradually cause the development of kidney diseases without showing any clear symptoms. 

So, what can you do to help your kidneys? 

Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Stay kidney-healthy by avoiding too much salt, something which is often hidden in many fast foods; make sure not pick up weight, exercise regularly and drink water regularly.

Make sure to go for a yearly medical checkup, have your blood pressure checked.  Be sure to take urine dipsticks. They are used to detect any developing renal (kidney) diseases. This will prompt your health care provider to do further blood tests.

If you already have hypertension, diabetes, obesity; get actively involved in controlling these diseases.  Eat a healthier diet and avoid the intake of salty foods, this means avoiding fast foods and steering toward homecooked meals.

Stay active, do some exercise every week by aiming for 30 minutes per day. Try to lose weight in a healthy manner, avoiding crash diets and involving others in the efforts toward making a sustainable, healthier way of life. It’s also very important to take prescribed medication diligently and follow your health care provider’s advice, by doing this you can avoid or at least slow the progression of renal disease. 

“Let us try together to become healthier and stay informed regarding our own health! The pair of bean shaped organs inside the lower ribcage may be small and well-hidden. Despite this they are still one of the most important parts of the body and should not be forgotten. Although it can’t be felt the impact it has on the body is massive,” concluded Dr du Buisson.