Health Matters Spring 2021 - Page 28

Numerous causes of kidney disease

T he kidneys perform vital functions in the human body . According to the National Kidney Foundation ®, the kidneys filter waste and excess fluids from the blood and return essential vitamins , amino acids , glucose , hormones , and other vital substances to the bloodstream . Without healthy kidneys , a person ’ s overall health is greatly compromised .

A simple trip to the refrigerator can give people an idea of just how vital their kidneys are to their overall health . When opening the refrigerator , look at a gallon of milk that ’ s inside and imagine half of it being filled with waste circulating its way through your bloodstream . The American Kidney Fund ® notes that each day the kidneys filter about 30 gallons of blood , removing about half a gallon of extra water and waste products in the process . Few people would want half a gallon of waste to sit in their refrigerators , and no one would want that same amount of waste flowing unfiltered through their bloodstream , which underscores the essential role that fully functional kidneys play .
The NKF notes that 10 percent of the global population is affected by chronic kidney disease , or CKD . Such a high percentage may give the impression that kidney disease is not preventable , but that ’ s not the case . Many of the causes of kidney disease are related to individuals ’ lifestyle choices . By learning about those causes and how to prevent them , the global incidence rates of CKD can decline .
• High blood pressure : High blood pressure is a leading cause of kidney failure in the United States . The NKF notes that maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly are two effective ways to avoid high blood pressure .
• Diabetes : The Kidney Fund ® notes that more than half of all cases of kidney failure are caused by diabetes . While some people are born with type 1 diabetes , which cannot be prevented , many more people develop type 2 diabetes due to unhealthy lifestyle choices , such as eating a poor diet and not being physically active . Type 2 diabetes is preventable , and by taking measures to reduce their risk for it , people are also
making an effort to reduce their risk for kidney disease .
• Glomerulonephritis : Glomerulonephritis is inflammation of the tiny filters in the kidneys known as the glomeruli . The Mayo Clinic notes that these filters remove excess fluid , electrolytes and waste from the bloodstream , passing them directly into the urine . The cause of glomerulonephritis is often unknown , but the NKF notes that some cases may be inherited and others may be the result of an infection . According to the Mayo Clinic , glomerulonephritis can occur on its own or as part of another disease , including diabetes . Though the cause of glomerulonephritis is often unknown , taking steps to reduce one ’ s risk for diabetes may be an effective way to also reduce the risk of developing glomerulonephritis .
The kidneys perform vital functions in the human body . Taking steps to protect them from disease is a worthy endeavor that can promote long-term health .
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28 Health Matters