The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, located against the back muscles in the upper abdominal cavity just below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine. The kidneys detoxify the blood and aid the body in filtering out waste products through urine.
Another primary function of the kidneys is to remove excess water from the body. They also help retain water when the body needs more.
Moreover, the kidneys help regulate the levels of minerals like calcium and phosphate in the body. They also produce important hormones that help regulate body functions like blood pressure and making of red blood cells to carry oxygen and important nutrients throughout the body.
To stay healthy, it is essential to keep the kidneys functioning properly. Some common symptoms that can indicate kidney problems are a change in color and quantity of your urine, dizziness, vomiting, anemia, breathing issues, feeling cold most of the time, tiredness or fatigue, itchy skin, bad breath and sudden pain in the body.
If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your doctor to rule out the possibility of kidney disease.
There are many reasons behind kidney problems. However, many habits that people adopt can also cause huge damage to their kidneys.
Here are the top 10 common habits that damage your kidneys.
1. Delaying the Urge to Urinate
This is one of the most common causes of damage to the kidneys, as the urine remains in the bladder longer, as it supports the multiplication of bacteria in the urine.
These harmful bacteria cause urinary tract and kidney infections. Moreover, retaining the urine applies pressure to the kidneys and leads to renal failure and urinary incontinence. Hence, note that you should never postpone the urge to urinate.
Smoking is a really detrimental habit, which damages all body organs, including the kidneys. Numerous studies have found a link between smoking and kidney disease, and according to the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP), smoking is the number one cause of ESRD (end-stage renal disease).
This bad habit raises blood pressure and the heart rate, and reduces the blood flow and narrows the blood vessels in kidneys. Moreover, it aggravated kidney diseases and accelerates the loss of the function of kidneys.
3. 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 10 to 12 glasses at a minimum. In this way, the body will be well hydrated and the kidneys healthy. On the other hand, don’t consume too much liquid as this can harden the function of kidneys.
4. High Salt Consumption
Regularly eating too much salt can also cause huge damage to your kidneys as well as other health problems. The kidneys metabolize 95 percent of the sodium consumed through food.
When salt intake is high, the kidneys need to work harder to excrete the excess salt. This in turn can lead to decreased kidney functioning, causing water retention in the body. Water retention can cause a hike in blood pressure and increase the risk of developing kidney disease.
Studies have also shown that salt intake increases the amount of urinary protein, one of the major risk factors for developing kidney disease.
The recommended amount of salt is no more than 5 grams a day. More than this amount is harmful for your kidneys as well as your overall health. 1 teaspoon of salt is about 6 grams.
5. Drinking Alcohol in Excess
Regular heavy drinking – more than four drinks a day – has been found to double the risk chronic kidney disease. Heavy drinkers who also smoke have an even higher risk of kidney problems. Smokers who are heavy drinkers have about five times the chance of developing chronic kidney disease than people who don’t smoke or drink alcohol to excess.
6. 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 functioning. 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.
7. High Protein Diet
The consumption of excessive amounts of protein-based foods, such as red meat, increases the risk of kidney disease, as the function of these organs is to eliminate and metabolize nitrogenous wastes from the body, which are by-products of the digestion of protein.
The excessive consumption of protein chronically increases the glomerular pressure and hyperfiltration, thus raising the metabolic load of kidneys, and leading to the development of kidney issues.
Hence, you should limit the intake of red meat, and in the case of kidney issues, completely eliminate it from your diet, in order to prevent further complications.
8. Consuming Too Much Caffeine
Too much caffeine consumption can cause high blood pressure, which in turn will put a strain on your kidneys. Over time, this can damage your kidneys.
In fact, according to a 2002 study published in Kidney International, caffeine consumption has a strong connection with kidney stones. Caffeine can increase calcium excretion in urine.
Caffeine in moderate amounts will not cause health problems for most people. You can drink 1 to 2 cups of coffee, 3 cups of tea per day. Also, limit your intake of other sources of caffeine like soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate, cocoa and some medications.
9. Missing Out on Sleep
A good night’s rest is extremely important to your overall well-being and, it turns out, your kidneys. Kidney function is regulated by the sleep-wake cycle which helps coordinate the kidneys’ workload over 24 hours. Research shows that people who sleep less usually have faster kidney function decline.
10. Ignoring Common Infections
Kidney damage may also result by neglecting the existence of infections, such as coughs, colds, flu, tonsillitis, and pharyngitis. If you leave a common infection untreated, you may develop kidney damage, so you should always make sure you give a proper rest to the body, use antibiotics properly, and treat these issues on time.