8th March is World Kidney Day 2018, an annual global awareness and education event. This year’s theme is:
Kidney Disease and Women’s Health
Why women’s health specifically? Because kidney disease affects more women than men – and there is no cure.
But we don’t really hear a great deal about kidneys. What exactly do they do? Can we function without them?
Kidneys are essential to our health and have the following main functions:
- They get rid of excess water and toxins
- Regulate blood pressure
- Make red blood cells
- Keep bones strong by activating vitamin D
Kidney disease is serious; kidney failure can be fatal. Changes in diet and lifestyle can help slow down and prevent any further damage, but early diagnosis and prompt treatment are essential.
So what causes kidney disease?
Many people think that excess alcohol causes kidney disease. That can certainly be a factor, but there many other reasons. And some people are at risk because of factors beyond their control, for example:
- If there is a family history of kidney disease
- If people have Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds
Anyone with diabetes, high blood pressure and/or cardiovascular disease is at risk of developing kidney disease.
As with any major disease, lifestyle is a major factor: Do you have a healthy diet? Are you drinking enough water? Are you getting enough exercise and fresh air?
But there is another elephant in the room:
Overuse of over-the-counter (OTC) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Ibuprofen, can cause kidney damage and disease. A study published in December 2017 stated that NSAIDs are the biggest cause of drug-induced kidney disease.
Please don’t be a painkiller popper. Think of other ways to control your pain if you can, such as acupuncture, yoga, Tai Chi and /or other complementary therapies. (See our Complementary Therapists in Essex directory to find therapists near you.)