Friday, September 14, 2012

Why You Should Protect Your Kidneys

You shouldn’t take your kidneys for granted; They function so discretely, efficiently, and in most people continuously, throughout their lifetime without the slightest problem. One only need to have some knowledge about the consequences of kidney failure, however, or just talk to a victim of this condition, to understand how important these organs are to survival and how hard it is to initiate their natural functions.

Based on research, diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure in the United States. If you have diabetes, over time, this can lead to serious damage of your kidneys. Kidney damage as a result of diabetes is called diabetic nephropathy. This usually begins long before you have any symptom.

Because your kidneys works as filters to clean your blood, if they are damaged, they will lose their exquisite abilities to cleanse the blood. As a result, waste and fluids will build up in your blood stream instead of leaving your body.

Other ways in which your kidneys can be damaged include the following:
  • Urinary tract contamination by bacteria from feces
  • An autoimmune attack on the kidneys by white blood cells may block and destroy glomer uli (blood capillary)
  • Poisoning from mercury, lead or certain solvents causing tissues damages
The nephrons(small tubes that do the filtering) of the kidney are so numerous and so deficient that even if two-thirds of these tubules are destroyed, the individual can still continue to live a fairly normal life. However, if the number drops to 10 or 20 percent, the person can experience severe tissue swelling as a result of salt and water retention, a well as buildup of urea, hydrogen and potassium ions, and other metabolic byproducts.  This will cause the blood to become very acidic and can lead to coma.  Furthermore, death is eminent if the pH of the blood falls below 6.9.

If the damage continues, your kidneys could fail. In fact,  People with kidney failure need either dialysis or a kidney transplant. If it hadn’t been for the invention of an artificial kidney or kidney dialysis machine, which works via simple diffusion to take over some of the kidney’s blood-cleansing functions, many people with bad kidneys wouldn’t be living at this moment.

This is how the dialysis process works: when the machine is turned on, blood containing waste from the patient’s artery is routed through a long, porous membrane bathed by a solution much like normal blood plasma.  As it passes through, the wastes diffuse into the solution (from the region of higher waste concentration to lower  waste concentration). After circulating a number of times through many meters of tubing and back into the body, the patient’s blood is adequately free from wastes to allow normal activity -- at least for a while.

The dialysis machine unfortunately has some serious drawbacks: Although it has the ability to perform filtration is not able to carry out neither the re-absorption nor the secretion activities of a living kidney.  Another problem is that, the patient’s blood must be treated with an anticoagulant(a blood thinner) so that it does not clot as it passes through the machine, then treated again with a coagulant as it reenters the person’s body so that he or she won’t bleed too easily.

Because of the drug treatments, the artificial kidney can only be used every two or three days, and due to the slowness of waste diffusion, each session may last from 5 to 10 hours. Also, the use of anticoagulants allows infections to occur with distressing frequency. 

Finally, new studies show that the way a dialysis machine is routinely disinfected can make a difference between a patient’s survival and death by infection.  People with kidney failure are literally captives of the dialyzer: it helps them to live much longer, but at the same time, diminishes the quality of life, consumes much of their time, and can even cause them to die if the machine is not maintained properly.

Presently, the only alternative  to this captivity is Kidney transplant. However, this alternative comes with its share of problem --- Kidney  Donors are limited to blood relatives or others with closely matching tissue types.  Even with this careful screening, the patient may need long-term drug therapy to suppress immune rejection (kidney rejection). 

Although thousands of people are saved each year by dialysis machines and Kidney transplants. Many have also died from kidney failure as a result of unhealthy lifestyles.

A simple urine test can be done to detect Kidney damages. If a small amount of protein is found in your urine this is usually an early sign . A blood test can also help determine how efficiently your kidneys are working.

You can protect your kidneys from the damages caused by diabetes by simply adopting positives lifestyle which include eating right, exercising regularly and getting frequent medical checkups. If unfortunately your kidneys are already damaged, you can keep them from getting worse by simply controlling your blood sugar and blood pressure, taking your medicines and adhering to the right diet such as eating moderate amount of protein. Because metal poisoning can also damage your kidneys, you should protect yourself from these environmental hazards as well.