Kidneys are among the most important organs in the human body. They detoxify the blood and help the body filter out the waste material through urine. Moreover, their main functions include eliminating excess water from the body, or retaining it when needed. They regulate the levels of phosphate, calcium, and other minerals in the body.
Kidneys help in the regulation of blood pressure as they produce important hormones needed for this function, as well as in the production of red blood cells which carry important nutrients and oxygen throughout the body.
As you can see, kidneys have numerous important functions in our body, so it’s essential that we keep them function properly. Usual symptoms of kidney issues include: changed quantity and color of the urine, vomiting, dizziness, breathing issues, anemia, fatigue or tiredness, bad breath, feeling cold most of the time, sudden pain in the body, and itchy skin.
Visit your doctor if you notice some of these symptoms to exclude the possibility of kidney disease. Kidney problems can be caused by different reasons, but people have adopted many habits that can as well cause severe damage to their kidneys.
Your kidneys can be damaged by the following 10 common habits:
1. Delaying the Urge to Urinate
One of the main causes of kidney damage is not emptying your bladder on time. This way, the urine will remain in the bladder for a longer period, allowing multiplying of the bacteria breeding in the urine. These dangerous bacteria can lead to kidney or urinary tract infection. Retaining the urine can cause urinary incontinence and renal failure as it increases the pressure on the kidneys.
If you are one of those who habitually postpone the urge to urinate, it’s time to change that before it’s too late.
2. Insufficient Intake of Water
Your kidneys can be severely damaged if you don’t drink enough water. If your body lacks water, your blood will become concentrated so there will be less blood flow to the kidneys. This impedes the ability of kidneys to flush out the toxins from your body, and the more toxins in the body, the more health problems.
The recommended daily amount of fluid consumed by a healthy adult is 8 to 12 glasses at a minimum. This way, the body will be well hydrated and the kidneys stay healthy. On the other hand, don’t consume too much liquid as this can harden the function of kidneys.
3. High Intake of Salt
Consuming too much salt on a regular basis can lead to serious kidney damage and other health issues as well. 95% of the sodium consumed through food is metabolized by kidneys. If you consume too much salt, your kidneys will have to work much harder in order to excrete the excess salt. This can result in reduced function of your kidneys, leading to retention of water in your body. Water retention can increase the blood pressure as well as the risk of kidney disease.
According to many studies, the intake of salt raises the quantity of urinary protein, which is another risk factor for developing kidney disease. Every amount higher than 5 grams a day is harmful for both kidneys and your general health. One teaspoon of salt is approximately six grams.
4. Regular Use of Analgesics
Many people take analgesics, or over-the-counter painkillers, to lower inflammation and fever, and to control pain. However, this habit can cause damage on kidneys, and on other organs as well. According to a research, over-the-counter analgesics can decrease the blood flow to the kidneys and worsen their function. Long-term or heavy use of analgesics causes acute kidney injury or interstitial nephritis which is a chronic kidney disease.
Those who have reduced kidney function should consult their doctor before taking any painkiller. Analgesics should be taken for the shortest time and at the lowest dose possible, even for those with normal kidney function.
5. High Protein Diet
Excessive intake of protein-based foods like red meat can raise the risk of kidney disease. Kidneys have another important role, and that is to metabolize and eliminate nitrogenous wastes from the body, which are by-products of the protein digestion. High intake of protein chronically raises the glomerular pressure and hyper filtration, thus increasing the metabolic load of kidneys, which increases the risk of developing kidney issues.
Therefore, the best thing for your kidneys is to limit the amount of red meat consumption, and those who already deal with some kidney problem should immediately stop consuming red meat since it can aggravate their problem.
6. Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Alcohol is a toxin which causes a lot of stress on the liver and kidneys. That’s why drinking excessive amounts can lead to severe kidney damage, so you should always try to drink in moderation.
If you drink excessive amounts of alcohol, the uric acid will be stored in the renal tubules, causing tubular obstruction which raises the risk of developing kidney failure. Furthermore, alcohol leads to dehydration and impedes the normal kidney function. The healthy amount of alcohol consumed on a daily basis is: 1 glass for women and older people, and 2 glasses for men.
7. Smoking Cigarettes
Smoking is not only bad for kidneys, but for almost every organ in our body, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The relation of smoking and kidney disease has been shown by many studies. As the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) explains, smoking is the number one cause for ESRD (end stage renal disease).
Smoking increases the heart rate and blood pressure, as well as decreases the blood flow and narrows the blood vessels in kidneys. This unhealthy habit can aggravate existing kidney disease, and can speed up the loss of kidney functions. The best way to prevent this is to stop smoking, as this habit is harmful for every part of your body.
8. Consuming Too Much Caffeine
If you consume too much caffeine, your blood pressure will be increased, which will burden the function of kidneys. Over longer periods, this can cause kidney damage. Kidney International has published a 2002 study according to which the consumption of caffeine is strongly related to kidney stones. Caffeine can raise the excretion of calcium in urine.
Nevertheless, most people won’t have any problem if they consume caffeine in moderate amounts. So consuming 3 cups of tea, 1 to 2 cups of coffee a day is perfectly fine. But you shouldn’t forget the other sources of caffeine like energy drinks, cocoa, soft drinks, chocolate, and some medications, so make sure you limit their amount too.
9. Ignoring Common Infections
Ignoring coughs, colds, flu, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, and other common infections, can cause serious kidney damage. Those with kidney disease have often reported to had no rest when they have been sick, and these are often weather sensitive people who often get ill.
If you don’t treat your common infection, the viruses or bacteria can cause kidney damage. Therefore, whenever you get a common infection, treat it properly and on time. Rest your body and take your antibiotics properly.
10. Lack of Sleep
A lot of people ignore the importance of proper sleep because of their busy lifestyle. A 6- to 8-hour sleep is crucial for a person’s overall health. The organ tissues renew while you are sleeping, so if you don’t get enough sleep you will interrupt this process, which will lead to damage of many organs, including the kidneys.
According to many studies, improper sleep can cause increased clogging of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and high blood pressure, which raises the risk of kidney damage. Always try to keep a good balance between work and rest, and to adopt healthy sleeping habits. In this way, you will protect your kidneys, and your overall health.