5 SIGNS YOUR KIDNEY IS TELLING ABOUT ITS HEALTH
The kidney is the natural blood purifier of the body. It filters the blood over 400 times a day and keeps it clear of unwanted substances, maintains mineral quantities, regulates blood sugar, and sodium levels and even takes care of bone and muscle health. These functions are extremely essential for a healthy body which when hindered is known as kidney disease.
About 1 in 10 people have some form of kidney disease at varying degrees, mostly without even being aware of it. Commonly known kidney diseases include chronic kidney disease, kidney stone, polycystic kidney disease, and acute kidney disease.
There are some basic signs to look out for, indicating that your kidney is asking for help.
Colour of urine:
This can vary from time to time depending on the amount of water you drank, the food you consumed, if you are undergoing any medications and also based on your bodily functions. But a normal urine colour would range anything from ‘pale yellow’ to ‘orange’ or sometimes even ‘green’. The lighter colours indicate you being more hydrated while darker shades denote more concentrated urine.
But when the colour is observed to be ‘red’ or ‘purplish’, it might denote blood leakage in urine due to kidney infections, kidney stone, polycystic kidney, or even chronic kidney disease. This has to be tested and cured immediately.
Urine is foamy:
The kidney also helps regulate the protein levels in the blood. But normally, protein doesn’t get filtered out from the blood through urine. When there is excess protein or albumin in the blood or a kidney dysfunction leading to leakage of protein then, it can be observed in your urine as well. Just like how beating an egg, which has the same albumin makes it foamy.
This is known as ‘nephrotic syndrome’. High protein in the blood can also lead to puffiness of the eyes. If these symptoms are observed, it is essential to visit a nephrologist as soon as possible.
Swollen ankles, legs and knees:
The kidney maintains salt, mineral and fluid levels in the body. Due to kidney diseases or when the filtering mechanism of the kidney is affected excessive amounts of minerals and fluids get accumulated in various parts of the body. This can lead to swelling in the ankles, legs, and even hands. But swelling is particularly severe towards the lower part of the body due to gravity.
This is why people with swollen legs are advised to keep their legs elevated. Mineral accumulation can also lead to kidney stones.
Ammonia breath and change of taste:
Another symptom that might indicate a possible kidney disease is ammonia breath. Urea is a waste product that is generated when the kidney filters blood. But, when this isn’t removed properly by the kidney your body might attempt to expel it through other means in this case, the mouth. Urea when reacted with saliva forms ammonia hence causing this pungent ammonia breath.
Food might also taste like iron or metal. When such observations are made it is mandatory to consult a doctor and take the ‘ammonia breath test’.
Frequent urge to urinate:
When your kidney isn’t functioning properly, you might urge to urinate more frequently than usual and sometimes uncontrollably. But you might only urinate in lesser quantities and might have to apply more pressure while doing so. This might be a symptom of urinary tract infection(UTI), overactive bladder or even chronic kidney disease. This is also commonly observed in diabetic patients who have high chances of being affected by kidney diseases.
The major issue regarding kidney diseases is that they remain undiagnosed until a very critical stage. Most kidney diseases can be cured or at least prevented from worsening if detected at an early stage. But diseases like chronic kidney disease often show minimal to no symptoms until the final stage.
Kidney diseases can be detected by a ‘simple blood’ or ‘urine test’ for which cures are also apparent. It gets complicated only when the disease reaches a stage of complete kidney failure. This either requires life-long dialysis or a kidney transplant. But dialysis throughout one’s life isn’t a very feasible technique for most families in India and finding an ideal kidney donor is a very tedious task. The best way to avoid this entire trauma is to get tested yearly once and also by following basic preventive measures like:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Reducing sodium intake
- Keeping a check on blood sugar and pressure levels
- Maintaining an appropriate body weight
- Having a fit and active lifestyle
- Quitting smoking.
Lack of awareness mainly attributes to such explosive amounts of people affected by kidney diseases. This is why ‘World Kidney Day’ is celebrated every year on the 11th of March to create awareness about the importance of kidney health and early detection.