Your kidneys filter waste and extra fluid out of your blood so they can be removed from your body in your urine. When your kidneys stop working and can no longer do their job, it’s called kidney failure.
1. Manage your blood sugar
Diabetes increases your risk for heart disease and kidney failure. That’s just one reason to manage your blood sugar.
2. Manage your blood pressure
High blood pressure can increase your risk for heart disease as well as kidney failure.
3. Maintain a healthy weight
Obesity can increase your risk for conditions associated with kidney failure, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
4. Eat a heart-healthy diet
A heart-healthy diet — one low in sugar and cholesterol and high in fiber, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables — helps prevent weight gain.
5. Reduce salt intake
Eating too much salt is associated with high blood pressure.
6. Drink enough water
7. Limit alcohol
Alcohol increases your blood pressure. The extra calories in it can make you gain weight, too.
8. Don’t smoke
Smoking reduces blood flow to your kidneys. It damages kidney function in people with or without kidney disease.
9. Limit over-the-counter pain medication
In high doses, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, reduce the amount of blood flow to your kidneys, which can harm them.
10. Reduce stress
Reducing stress and anxiety can lower your blood pressure, which is good for your kidneys.
11. Exercise regularly
Exercise, such as swimming, walking, and running, can help reduce stress, manage diabetes and high blood pressure, and maintain a healthy weight.
If you think you might have kidney disease, it’s important to see your doctor for evaluation. Getting an early diagnosis and treatment can help slow the progression to kidney failure.
If you know you have kidney disease, regularly see your doctor to monitor your kidney function. While chronic kidney disease can’t be reversed, its progression can be slowed with appropriate treatment.
Your kidneys can lose up to 90 percent of their function and still do their job pretty well. Losing more than that is considered kidney failure.
There are two types of kidney failure:
- Acute kidney failure is a sudden loss of kidney function. It’s usually reversible.
- Chronic kidney failure is a gradual loss of kidney function. It gets worse over time and isn’t reversible (but you can slow its progression).
When kidneys fail, waste and extra fluid builds up in your body. This causes the symptoms of kidney failure.
symptoms of kidney failure
Usually there are no symptoms in early stages of kidney failure. When they do occur, symptoms may include:
- decreased urine output
- difficulty concentrating
- muscle twitches and cramping
- metallic taste in your mouth
- nausea and vomiting
- loss of appetite
- swelling in your body (edema) that starts in your ankles and legs (peripheral edema)
- shortness of breath due to fluid buildup in your lungs
- weakness (asthenia)
Acute kidney failure occurs when something causes your kidneys to suddenly stop working. Some of the causes are:
- acute pyelonephritis (kidney infection)
- significant blood loss
- very low blood pressure
- contrast dye used for some imaging tests, like CT or MRI scan
- glomerulonephritis (damage to the filtering parts of your kidney) that occurs rapidly
- interstitial nephritis (damage to the tubules in your kidney) that occurs rapidly
- urinary tract obstruction, such as from a kidney stone or enlarged prostate
- over-the-counter pain medications, such as NSAIDs
- prescribed medications, including some blood pressure medications at high doses, antibiotics, or cancer medications
- other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, and amphetamines
Chronic kidney failure occurs when something slowly and progressively damages your kidneys. Causes include:
Your kidneys do a lot of other things besides filtering your blood. When kidneys fail, they can’t do these jobs, so complications might occur.
risks of kidney failure
There are treatments for both types of kidney failure. Acute kidney failure can be reversed. Chronic kidney failure progression can be slowed with the right treatment.
In acute kidney failure, the problem is temporary. Your kidneys will start working again once the problem has been treated. Some examples of treatment are:
- antibiotics for pyelonephritis
- transfusion for blood loss
- corticosteroids for immune conditions
- intravenous fluids for dehydration
- removal of an obstruction
If your kidneys don’t respond to treatment right away, hemodialysis can be done temporarily until they’re working again.
Progressive damage to your kidneys causes chronic kidney failure. Since it can’t be reversed, something else has to take over the work of your kidneys. The options are:
- Hemodialysis. A dialysis machine can filter your blood. This can be performed at a dialysis center or at home, but will require a partner.
- Peritoneal dialysis. The filtering occurs in your abdomen. This can be done at a center or at home. It doesn’t require a partner’s assistance.
- Kidney transplant. A donated kidney is surgically placed in your body.
Your outlook depends on the type of kidney failure.
If you have chronic kidney failure, your kidneys can’t recover, but you can slow its progression with the right treatment, unless you receive a kidney transplant.
If you have acute kidney failure, your kidneys will most likely recover and start to work again.
Following these tips can help you prevent kidney failure or slow its progression. The most important thing you can do is manage your diabetes and high blood pressure.
Living a healthy lifestyle by eating right, being active, and not smoking is another key to keeping your kidneys healthy.