5 myth and facts about your kidneys

Nowadays there is a crazy drive among people to avoid any kidney disease at any cost. You hear all types of stories and things to do before you even get a disease to worry about. And yes, it is a good idea to be preventive and to manage your kidney’s health in a good way but it should be done in the correct way using the correct food and treatment to get the most out of your life without worrying about a kidney related disease.

There are some very common myths out there that maybe you have even heard around in random conversations. And there are many that are not evening this list. This time we give you 5 myths about your kidneys that may give you a new perspective about these organs and how you take care f them.

Water will wash out your toxins

The myth is that if you drink eight glasses of water your body will detox. I am sure that many of us have heard this before from a friend or close relative. In the real world, there is no evidence to back this up and the amount of urine the body produces has nothing to do with the performance of the kidney. The idea that if you have more urine means that the kidneys are working even better is something that maybe was deduced. But it has no relation whatsoever.   

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We are not saying that water does not help the kidney function well, but it is not directly related to its performance. In places that are very hot, it is better to drink a lot of water because the body tends to use more water than normal. Or if a person has a background of kidney diseases, water can help with the pain in future treatments. But there are no more uses for water in the kidney’s cleansing process.

Calcium causes kidney stones

It is true that kidney stones are made of calcium and that there is a big belief that it is only calcium that causes kidney stones and that is why this myth is so popular. The big losers here are dairy products because people tend to think that they must avoid calcium-rich products. But in the real world, it is not the excess of calcium but the lack of it that affects the body.

The fact is that kidney stones are made from calcium and from oxalate, a substance that is found in vegetables and fruits. Kidney stones are made from these two materials when they get combined. Also, calcium found in natural products is rarely a cause for kidney stones. On the other hand, calcium from supplements does tend to form kidney stones because it does not combine properly with the oxalate and it does not stay in the gut to later be eliminated via feces. Instead, it is eliminated in the urine and here is where kidney stones are helped by calcium to form.

Alcohol and your kidneys

This myth comes from the belief that if you are urinating a lot when you are out partying is a bad sign of kidney overuse. Again, there is no evidence to back this claim up. Maybe a lot of people just confused the fact that the liver is the one that suffers when people drink too much alcohol and not the kidneys.

Or maybe people tend to think that drinking alcohol can affect your kidneys because alcohol dehydrates you in very big and fast ways and dehydration is, in fact, a cause of kidney disease.

It is easy to know when kidneys are suffering and they are not working properly

In fact, it is not easy and not very noticeable when your kidneys are failing. In fact, people don’t notice the disease until it is a bit late to control it or manage it without an operation. People don’t notice the symptoms up until where only 20% of the kidney is working and this is when they start getting the symptom. Urine does not say much about the kidney’s health so it is not trustworthy measurement.

Preventive medicine does not work in kidney diseases

Many people tend to think that kidneys fail for a reason and that it is just impossible to prevent such diseases. The fact is that kidney diseases can be slowed down if patients and people that are at risk understand what is it that elevate their risk factors to the maximum and avoid such things. For example, diabetes and high blood pressure are sure indicators of kidney diseases; old age, smoking cigarettes and obesity are all factors that accelerate the risk of suffering from kidney diseases. Also, a healthy lifestyle plenty of exercise and a good diet is one of the best recipes to prevent kidney diseases.

Be sure to also read this post about What Peritoneal Dialysis is and the available treatments

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What is Peritoneal Dialysis, and which are the available treatments?

Peritoneal Dialysis (best-known as PD,) involves the removal of extra waste products from your blood. In this mode of dialysis, unlike other treatments, such as hemodialysis, the process is performed inside the body. This is a point that grabs the attention of many patients suffering from kidney disease, as it offers more practical conveniences. In contrast to hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis is performed every day (just the way the kidneys work), and it is the patient who carries it out.

From the medical point of view, it is an advantage that this procedure is performed every day of the week because the blood stays cleaner and it is actually easier to prevent eventual crises. People do not have to wait to go to the hospital or to connect to the machine at home. All that is needed is a catheter which is inserted into the patient’s belly (and by a rather rapid procedure.)

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In reality, there are two types of peritoneal dialysis. The best-known is continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD.) In this case, the catheter is connected to a tube, and through it, a cleaning liquid is introduced to start the waste elimination process, such as salts and excess of water in the blood. The cleansing fluid enters and is installed throughout the patient’s abdomen in less than a quarter of an hour, and then the patient’s abdomen lining begins to filter the disposable substances. At the same time, it retains nutrients and other necessary elements for the proper functioning of the organism. The introduction of the liquid should be performed under conditions of total asepsis, as an infection in these circumstances would be very serious and difficult to treat. In case of poor hygiene, peritonitis may occur. Peritonitis occurs when germs enter the peritoneal cavity through the catheter. It may be treated with antibiotics, but the performance of a treatment is extremely urgent. However, if the patient follows the medical recommendations, he or she will have no problem at all.

Recommended: The impact of peritoneal dialysis-related peritonitis on mortality in peritoneal dialysis patients

The cleansing liquid (dialyzer) is left in the patient’s womb for an average of four hours so that the filtration can be effected smoothly. Obviously, each body is different, and, depending on the physiological characteristics, as well as the level of presence of noxious substances to be filtered, it remains more or less time. This treatment offers a lot of freedom since while the dialysis is taking place the patient can do everything that a normal person would do, without having to sit or lie next to a machine for hours. This is carried out in the most natural way possible: Thanks to gravity. It is not necessary to artificially suck the solution, and the patient simply replaces the liquid by the same procedure as it is mentioned above. When the dialysate has done its work, the solution containing all the residues (normally filtered by a kidney) is drained and expelled. The process is then repeated because the functions of the body do not stop, and it is repeated permanently. Hence, its name.

The other procedure is automatic. In this treatment, the patient connects the catheter to a machine, and this catches up with everything. The patient does not need to perform the exchange of new dialysate per used: It is an automatic process that even offers more freedom to patients. The machine works by cycles, like a washing machine. The patient schedules the machine at night, before going to bed, and the rest of the process is performed while the patient is resting. The interesting thing is that this machine is a totally independent equipment that works without connecting it to the drainage or the electricity. The cycling machine is not large, and, therefore, it is easy to transport, in case the patient should travel and carry it in the luggage. That is certainly another advantage.

The Merck Home Manual of Medical Information - Dialysis

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It is important to keep in mind that this treatment takes more time (overnight, to be precise.) The patient lies down to sleep, and seven or eight hours later, the machine will have cleaned the whole body. Manual functions in this process are minimal, and, in some cases, simply non-existent.

No matter what your choice is for the peritoneal dialysis procedure when it comes to the number of times the dialysis process is performed per day, it is the very same thing. In both cases, it is permanent. The only difference is that in the first one is done manually, while in the second one it is carried out by a machine. In both procedures, insertion of a catheter into the patient’s belly is necessary, and, again, it is not a complicated operation.

These are very good options for patients with kidney failure and are a sign that it is possible to follow a normal life. I hope this information has been helpful to you, and I hope you share it with your friends, especially those who you know need these treatments.

Read also: The Most Common Questions Patients Have About Dialysis, by Joe Cosgrove

How to avoid starting dialysis sooner than expected

Although Joe Cosgrove has previously mentioned that starting dialysis is not the end of the world—in fact, he addressed the topic from different points of view including one major concern: how can individuals and patients under dialysis get the most out of life once they start the treatment?—. Many people fear that they will have to quit their jobs, or that they will have to dramatically change their lifestyles. The truth is, the onset of dialysis can be delayed to some extent. And although it is very tough to be diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, if patients are diagnosed in the early stages of such condition, there certain steps and measures they can take to get the most out of their kidneys and prolong kidney function.

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Following a physician’s advice, it is possible to still enjoy a healthy life even with kidney disease. Following adequate and good health practices, staying on the job and continuing to enjoy other leisure activities and social events are ways an individual can overcome the apparent lack of control of their condition. Additionally, aside from following a physician’s advice in order to avoid starting dialysis sooner that expected, having a job with a solid health insurance helps provide security and other health benefits.

One thing is still certain: there are a plethora of causes that may cause chronic kidney disease; however, there is also a myriad of recommendations that, if followed properly, can help an individual delay kidney failure—which is what leads to dialysis and kidney transplant.

The two main causes of chronic kidney disease in North America and other western countries are diabetes and high blood pressure. These diseases have always been on the rise in the American country, which has also caused an increase in the number of patients who suffer from certain chronic kidney disease. The first step, of course, to control any type of CKD is by controlling the aforementioned conditions.

Diabetes and how to extend kidney function

People who suffer from diabetes need to mind their blood glucose levels. There is no shortcut. Blood glucose levels must be kept in an adequate range in accordance with physicians recommend. Additionally, hemoglobin A1C should be below 6.5%. And, of course, patients suffering from early stage chronic kidney disease need to have their kidneys tested at least once a year.

Research has shown that certain high blood pressure medicines are able to protect the kidneys of those who also suffer from diabetes, even they also have normal blood pressure levels.

The high blood pressure scenario

Individuals with high blood pressure—also known as hypertension—, should consult with their primary physician in order to get their blood pressure medicine. As recommended by the The National Heart and Blood Institute, it is recommended to have blood pressure under control (at 120/80 or even lower for those who have early stage kidney disease. For those who suffer from diabetes, blood pressure should be around 130/85.

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Other diseases commonly associated with chronic kidney disease

Aside from the previously mentioned diseases, there are several other conditions that can lead to suffering from chronic kidney disease: glomerulonephritis and lupus, for instance. These diseases affect the immune system, causing it to overact, which ends up affecting the kidneys (due to inflammation). In order to slow down the pace at which the kidneys deteriorate under these circumstances, a physician can prescribe certain medicines such as steroids.

Chronic kidney disease is also a direct consequence of certain infections and other medicines that happen to be detrimental to the organs. Infections, for instance, can be wiped out through the controlled used of antibiotics; certain medications, such as painkillers or antibiotics cause a negative impact on the kidneys: patients with these conditions need to be straightforward with their physicians about their CKD prior to initiating other treatments in hopes of avoiding a worse condition and prevent further damage.

Prolonging kidney function

Irrespective of how an individual develops chronic kidney disease, there are certain steps people can take in hopes of prolonging kidney function. Smoking, for example, is known for having a direct impact and correlation with the progression of kidney disease, therefore, and simply put, it is recommended that those with early stage kidney disease stop spending their money on cigarettes and tobacco. Of course, adopting a healthy diet, losing weight and working out are crucial activities that can act in the betterment of kidney condition. People with high blood pressure should also limit sodium in their diets: physicians believe that avoiding a certain amount of phosphorus and protein may also slow down the pace at which kidneys deteriorate; however, research continues on other foods—and even medicines—to see whether they act in the best interest of the health of the patient.

It is also important to remember that every CKD is unique. It is best to first address a physician and work out on a plan to prevent and slow down the disease while getting the most of life. It is perfectly possible.