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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Is homeopathy a good idea to treat kidney disease?

Much has been said against homeopathy. Most of its critics say that this system for treating diseases is only a pseudoscience in which the naive fervently believe and that its benefits may be more related to the placebo effect than to real causes. In this post, I do not intend to give a concrete answer to this question but to leave on the table the different arguments of both positions on the subject.

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One of the main arguments of homeopathy’s contradictors, in addition to the fact that in the great majority of cases reviewed by medical specialists from different disciplines, there is a lack of scientific rigor in the studies that defend this system (and, therefore, it does not allow a large part of the medical community to rely on it by the most basic methods to determine objectivity,) there is, as mentioned, the presence of the placebo effect in patients. Of course, this raises other questions, especially from the side that defends homeopathy: If the effect of placebo is indeed positive, and in many cases, there is no evidence of side effects, what is wrong if people want to spend money on sugar pills? However, there are cases that prove that things are not so simple. Unfortunately, homeopathy may have surprising and dangerous side effects. Having nothing directly to do with some homeopathic medicine, in particular, there are indirect results when homeopaths replace doctors as a source of medical advice. For example, many homeopaths have a negative attitude towards vaccination, so parents who are in regular contact with a homeopath may be less likely to vaccinate their children. Homeopaths often tell anecdotes to prove that their system is effective, and yet there are cases that prove otherwise all the time.

According to an article by the Scientific American published earlier this year, there are hundreds of cases regarding children and babies who have suffered terrible effects because their parents have provided homeopathic medicines to solve simple problems as mitigating pain during dentition. In some cases, toddlers have stopped breathing, and it has been necessary to go to emergencies to hospitalize them. Sometimes, the article says, babies, end up dead. In the case of dialysis and renal disease, there have also been fatal cases that demonstrate that, in addition to preventive methods like a proper eating, sleep, and exercise habits, the best way to control kidney disease is traditional medicine ways, including dialysis.

Read also: The Best Eating Habits For Living In Dialysis, by Joe Cosgrove

On the other hand, the Russian Academy of Sciences has also performed studies to determine that homeopathy is a pseudoscience that does not offer evidence of its medical benefits, and that, on the contrary, has led even adult patients to death.

The problem is that, apparently, there are evidence sources that support both sides and confirm their arguments. The proponents of homeopathy, particularly in the case of kidney disease, have an interesting perspective. Homeopathy, according to them, can be supplied at the same time as a conventional medication since there are no incompatibilities in both fields. A renal patient is also a high-risk cardiovascular patient. Taking homeopathic medications may assure that there will be no interaction between both ills. Patients on dialysis can also benefit from homeopathy, always under the control of the specialist, though. Of course, there are some cases that support this view.

If this were true, this would mean that the use of homeopathy is actually effective in chronic renal pathologies, urinary tract infections, and recurrent nephritic colic, as well as for chronic renal patients. This would imply, among other things, that homeopathy would be right for all those people who, because of their deteriorated renal function, do not have good leaks and cannot take anti-inflammatory drugs or certain analgesics. In that case, we would be in the presence of a great step in medical terms, but both sides can never agree to operate in a complementary way.

It is not easy to take sides here. One might think of the benefits of taking natural medicines and think about the possibility of treating some diseases in the least invasive way possible. Nevertheless, things are not so elementary when it comes to homeopathy. The companies that produce this type of medicinal substances do not have to go through the strict filters by which companies that produce drugs do have to pass, which, in turn, have already approved a series of successful experiments that can be scientifically corroborated and verified through statistics. Homeopathic medicines seem harmless and the industry that produces them seems so aware of the environment and the good health of the population, but old-school doctors cannot trust it.

Indeed, it would be wonderful if homeopathy could solve many of the problems that traditional medicine cannot solve on a daily basis. Allergies, the side effects of several medications, the high costs of many treatments, as well as the anomalous behavior of certain diseases in some patients, makes it necessary to constantly think about technological improvements and more effective methods. And that is the question.

Coming Back From Kidney Disease: Are You Ready to Work Again?

As per discussed in older posts by Joe Cosgrove, kidney disease, and renal failure, although imply a really hard time for patients, still leave room for them to get the most out of life. One of the biggest issues that concern the vast majority of renal failure and dialysis patients is whether or not they are able to work and perform their old labor duties.

As a matter of fact, many people with chronic kidney disease or renal failure manage to work either full time or part time. Moreover, some of them even go to school or are able to take care of their families and homes. Others prefer to perform volunteer work while still enjoying their hobbies: they go out with peers or even have regular workout and exercise routines. But since these types of conditions come with a heavy burden for those who suffer from them, it is no less than understandable to see patients wondering about whether or not they are ready to work.

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Here are some of the questions that patients ask the most about the possibility continuing to work while on treatment or suffering from any type of kidney disease:

I had a job prior to suffering kidney disease. Can I go back to work?

Most patients, especially those who start dialysis or undergo a transplant want to go back to work almost immediately. Some assert that it helps them feel like they are getting their lives back to what they consider normal, whereas others may take some time to recover from the fallout of the treatment or the post-operatory in case they underwent a kidney transplant surgery.

I am currently employed, can I just continue working while on treatment?

Some dialysis patients manage to work full time soon after they start the treatment. Others, due to the nagging consequences of the treatment, decide to rather take either a part-time or remote work. What seems to be clear, is that dialysis patients prefer to take jobs that are not as physically demanding as their older ones. In fact, working from home with a flexible schedule seems to be the best option, as patients are required to go to hemodialysis from time to time.

Whichever the case, patients should be able to talk to their employers about possible changes and conditions that can help them continue working while on treatment. And this is particularly important since employers likely ignore what kidney disease is about and its implications, therefore, addressing concerns about the job is perhaps the wisest thing to do.

As a matter of fact, doctors are often willing to talk to the patient’s employer to explain and address their condition. Employers will obviously have concerns about the possible limitations, which is why having the doctor address these concerns really come in handy.

Am I protected against labor discrimination?

There are several acts that protect people with some kind of disability from labor and job discrimination. Being fired or being denied a promotion due to some kind of condition or illness is entirely protected by the Civil Rights Act, the Rehabilitation Act and the American with Disabilities Act.

Employers often ask for medical certification stating that the patient indeed suffers from a specific condition, and cannot under any circumstances fire or force employees to resign simply because they require surgery or treatment.

How do I know if I am ready to work?

Of course, health should always be the patient’s top priority. Prior to recklessly going back to work—ignoring medical recommendations—, patients must decide whether they feel physically and mentally strong to take on their duties again. This process, of course, should always be accompanied by medical rehabilitation.

People with kidney disease or renal failure often go through the following rehabilitation process: first, they need to get themselves back to a much healthier physical overall state; second, they have got to convince themselves that, although they suffer from these diseases, there is still room for positivity; third, they need to start feeling confident and ok around peeps, coworkers and relatives; and fourth, they need to learn how to self-manage themselves to regain their productivity.

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As previously recommended, accompanying rehabilitation with physical activity is tremendously beneficial and will help patients achieve the aforementioned goals much easier. Volunteering and helping other go through the same process also provides a sense of productivity and will definitely help them gain back the skills that could unquestionably help them get a job in the future. The whole idea is to not let the disease impair the patient’s mental state, for, although these conditions imply difficult times, the spirit is everything. There is always another opportunity and there is always a chance to get the most out of life even while on dialysis or treatment: imagination and the will to live is key.