Whether you struggle with kidney stones or have a family history of kidney disease, there are preventive measures you can take to decrease your risk of kidney complications. Keep these eight precautions in mind for optimal kidney health.
1. Drink plenty of water.
Drinking fluids help flush out toxins and sodium from your kidneys. Dehydration allows toxins to build up, increasing your risk for kidney stones and other disorders. Ask your doctor how much water you should consume per day based on your fitness level, health conditions, and other factors.
2. Cut down on salt.
Over 89 percent of Americans consume more than the recommended amount of salt each day. Experts recommend limiting your daily sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams, about the amount of a teaspoon. Eating too much salt can increase your blood pressure and water retention, adding stress on your heart and blood vessels and preventing the water from flushing out toxins.
3. Limit your ibuprofen use.
Taking certain over-the-counter medications too often can cause kidney damage. Before taking a pain reliever, check the label for a kidney damage warning. If you have healthy kidneys, you may take these medications occasionally for temporary relief but never for long-term pain management. If you have kidney disease, ask your doctor before using a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
4. Manage your blood pressure.
High blood pressure is the most common cause of kidney damage. When your blood is unable to flow easily through your kidneys, it can lead to major problems. If your blood pressure is over 120/80, you should consider making healthier lifestyle changes to lower it. If your blood pressure is over 140/90, discuss how you can manage it with your doctor.
5. Maintain a healthy weight.
Obesity can contribute to many health conditions, including heart disease and stroke. Additionally, it can increase your body’s insulin resistance, which increases the amount of calcium that needs to be filtered through your kidneys. This puts you at risk for developing kidney stones. Obesity also increases your risk of high blood pressure, the leading cause of kidney damage, as the weight adds pressure to your blood vessels.
6. Limit your alcohol consumption.
Alcohol contains natural substances called purines. When the body breaks these down, it forms uric acid, which leaves the body through urination. Too much uric acid buildup in your kidneys can cause kidney disease and stones.
7. Don’t smoke.
Smoking impairs kidney function by reducing blood flow due to increased inflammation and significantly increases your risk for kidney cancer.
8. Know your risk.
Over 26 million Americans struggle with urologic diseases. If you’re at risk, schedule an appointment with your doctor to see how you can prevent chronic problems. Risk factors include:
High blood pressure
African, Asian, or Aboriginal descent
Family history of kidney disease