kidneys

The Only Guide You Need to Understand Your Kidneys

The kidney has an essential place in human health.  Humans, and all other animals, are created to have a pair of this bean-shaped organ.   Kidneys function mainly by filtering the wastes formed in the human body from the blood and throwing them out with water.  Due to their undertaking of this vital task, kidneys are the most critical organs in the human body structure. Along with many different tasks, it bears the burden of making life go smoothly. With their many functions, kidneys form the cornerstone of a good and healthy life. For this reason, the necessary elements should always be considered and applied carefully so as to protect kidney health and lead a trouble-free life. The kidneys have essential functions in our body; these functions are listed as follows:

  • The formation of urine by filtering the blood.
  • Excretion of harmful wastes, acids and excess water and salt from the body through urine.
  • Regulation of calcium and phosphorus balance for strong bones.
  • Activation of vitamin D in the body.
  • The regulation of blood pressure and the secretion of hormones stimulate the production of red blood cells in the blood.

To have a healthy life, the focus should be on primary prevention of kidney disease, modification of environmental risk factors and other risk factors, and structural abnormalities of the kidney and urinary tract [1].  

Importance of  Kidneys

Kidneys are of great importance to the protection of human health by maintaining essential bodily functions.  One of the most important duties of our kidneys is to filter out harmful waste materials formed as a result of food digestion. Two more important tasks are to balance water and some minerals in our body and secrete various hormones. Serious problems can be caused when these functions are compromised.  Kidneys must protect the body’s internal environment in a consistent and balanced manner in order to avoid these problems. For example, keeping the electrolyte balance, wherein the kidneys maintain the proper fluid level for.  For everything kidneys do for us, we owe it to our body to look after our kidney health.

 

kidney health

Kidney Disease

Kidney diseases occur as a result of a disruption of the mechanisms related to the functions of the kidneys in the body. Problems related to kidney health can be seen in a comprehensive framework. Diseases can be limited to the blood vessels of the kidneys and affect different regions such as kidney tissue, urinary tract, and the hormone production systems of the kidney. As a result of kidney diseases, some particular changes may occur in the morphological features of the kidneys such as size and shape. Also, blood levels of harmful substances like urea, which the kidney is responsible for removing from the body, may increase. Other changes include a decrease in kidney-derived hormone levels and protein leakage- whereby protein is excreted in the urine when it should be staying in the blood, as well as a.

Various kidney diseases may occur depending on the region affected and the problems experienced with its functions [2]. These diseases are as followed:

  •   Chronic Kidney Disease
  •   Acute Kidney Failure
  •   Kidney stone
  •   Urinary Tract Infections
  •   Polycystic Kidney Disease
  •   Glomerulonephritis

Overview

It is known that the kidneys’ primary function is to remove waste products and excess fluid from the body. This excretion occurs through the urine. This process is fundamental for the body’s chemistry to be stable. However, the kidney also has other essential functions:

  •   Secretes hormones that regulate blood pressure,
  •   Activates vitamin D in our body,
  •   Secretes the hormone necessary for the production of blood cells.

Kidney diseases come in various forms. A sudden decrease in kidney functions is known as acute kidney failure and may occur due to multiple conditions and drugs. In addition, many diseases may occur in our body due to kidney functions not working well enough and the risky situations that progress due to them. The irreversible decline in kidney function over a more extended period is known as chronic kidney disease.

Symptoms

Kidney-related health problems vary greatly, as they may differ from person to person.  Various symptoms may occur in the clinical makeup of these people. In each person, a particular area of the body may become affected due to the kidney function not working. In this respect, it is possible to encounter the following symptoms in kidney diseases:

  • Weakness – tiredness,
  • The blurring of consciousness,
  • Widespread oedema and swelling in the limbs, more common in the lower parts of the body; oedema and swelling around the eyes due in the morning due to the lying position,
  • Dryness, rash, discoloration or paleness of the skin,
  • Change in urinary habits- frequent urination, getting up to urinate at night, urinating too much or too little,
  • Blood in the urine, dark-colored urine,
  • Burning or pain when urinating,
  • Pain in the lower back or lower abdominal quadrants,
  • Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation,
  • Muscle and joint pain,
  • Sexual dysfunction, sexual reluctance.

In addition, people with various conditions or disorders have an increased risk of developing kidney diseases. In this regard, people with the following characteristics are more likely to develop kidney disease than the rest of the population:

  •   Those with chronic diseases that cause kidney damage such as hypertension, diabetes, lupus…
  •   Those with a family history of chronic kidney disease,
  •   Elderly people.

Risk Factors

 The most important risk factors for kidney diseases are:

  • cardiovascular diseases
  • old age
  • high blood pressure
  • obesity
  • family history of kidney disease (genetic factors)
  • diabetes
  • smoking
  • environmental poisons

Chronic Kidney Disease 

The most common kidney disease is described as chronic kidney disease or chronic kidney failure. It’s usually seen as a result of tissue damage due to long-term health problems in the kidney tissue and disruption of kidney functions, and permanent regression. Hypertension and diabetes are counted among the most common causes in the population. Vascular structures (glomeruli), which play a critical role in the kidney’s blood vessels to filter and produce urine, are damaged by the effects of these diseases and lose their functions. As a result, the kidney does not have enough urine and the level of harmful substances in the blood increases.

Detection of CKD

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a long and often slow process in which the kidneys gradually lose their function. You may not be aware of your chronic kidney disease at first. Early symptoms may be inconspicuous, so you won’t notice them. The diagnosis of kidney failure is usually made with blood tests that measure Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, and glomerular filtration rate (GFR). The blood test assesses how much blood passes through the glomeruli each minute. Glomeruli are tiny filters that remove waste from the blood.

 There are five stages of chronic kidney disease. It may take years for the condition to progress from worsening normal kidney function (CKD stage 1) to Chronic Kidney Failure (CKD stage 5). At stage 5, chronic means the kidney’s damage is permanent. Factors that can bring about this disease are diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), various kidney tissue infections (glomerulonephritis), and overuse of certain drugs that reduce long-term kidney function.

human kidney

How can urine provide information about kidneys?

The diagnosis of kidney disease is often made unexpectedly after a blood and urine test is performed for another reason and when a patient hasn’t noticed any symptoms. These tests analyze urea, creatinine elevation, and abnormalities in the urine often associated with the glomerular filtration value. Detection of disorders in the kidneys occurs thanks to the urine in the body. For example, when a protein leak occurs in the kidneys, the easiest way to detect it is to do a urine test. However, kidney diseases can be diagnosed by examining the properties of various minerals and proteins in the urine and taking into consideration the amount, color, and microscopic imaging of the urine.

Proteinuria

Proteins, which constitute an essential part of the foods we eat, are digested and passed into the blood and arrive at the kidneys thanks to blood circulation. While the kidneys do filter the harmful substances in the blood and excrete them through the urine, they do not allow the proteins to pass into the urine. However, in some conditions, such as fever, hypertension, diabetes, and kidney disorders, the kidney cannot function effectively. This causes proteins to escape into the urine. Protein leakage is seen in the urine when these filters (nephron or glomeruli) are damaged in various kidney diseases. This condition is also called proteinuria.

Usually, proteinuria is discovered incidentally during routine urinalysis performed by patients. As protein leakage increases in patients; Symptoms such as foaming in the urine, swelling due to excessive water retention in the body, and shortness of breath may occur. In patients with severe proteinuria, indicators are low albumin in the blood and other associated fluid accumulations, and oedema and swelling may be observed in the body parts. If recurrent proteinuria cannot be explained by evaluating biological and environmental conditions, it may indicate a decrease in kidney function or another condition in the kidney. If recurrent proteinuria cannot be explained by evaluating biological and environmental conditions, it may indicate a decrease in kidney function or condition in the kidney. If proteinuria is not treated, it can have serious consequences.

How Does Vivoo Measure and Track the Kidney Function?

Urine is a significant health indicator for many diseases, including CKD. Healthy kidneys usually allow proteins to pass through their filters. However, if the filters are damaged by kidney disease, the protein will leak from the blood into the urine.

 Vivoo’s kidney parameter measures the level of protein in the urine. Additionally, small fluctuations of protein levels in the urine are not a cause for concern, as they may be temporary due to exercise, stress, or fever. However, especially in the long term, high amounts of urine protein (or proteinuria) may indicate a kidney problem.

Related: Vivoo Kidney BOX

What does Vivoo Measure?

Because of the benefit of Vivoo’s kidney parameter, the protein-creatinine ratio in the urine can be measured and any problem with the kidneys in the body can be checked. As a result of this ratio measurement, the level of proteinuria can be determined. As it is known, protein leakage in the kidneys affects the urinary tract.  These problems can be easily detected without causing great danger thanks to Vivoo’s easy-to-use, at-home strip test. 

 

vivoo kidney box

What does the presence of protein in the urine indicate?

 The kidneys constantly filter the blood to remove waste products in the urine while preserving beneficial components such as protein. However, a few conditions can disrupt this process and cause more protein than usual in the urine.

There are conditions that can cause a temporary increase of protein concentration in the urine that is not permanent and is not indicative of damage to kidney function.

  •   Extreme temperatures (hot or cold)
  •   Emotional stress
  •   Fever 

Each of these factors can temporarily alter the functioning of the kidney and cause protein in the urine. However, urine should return to normal once the cause is eliminated.

Symptoms of Protein Leakage:

  •   Foamy urine
  •   Back pain and pain where the kidneys are located near the lower ribs.
  •   Burning sensation or pain when urinating.
  •   Swelling of the hands, feet, abdomen or face.
  •   Seeing blood in the urine.
  •   Weakness.
  •   Nausea.
  •   Shortness of breath.
  •   Anorexia.
  •   Inability to concentrate. 

However, in some cases, very serious and long-lasting symptoms can be seen. In these cases, it is pertinent to seek professional help. These symptoms are:

  •   Pain and pressure in the chest.
  •   Short-term mental confusion and loss of consciousness.
  •   Difficulty in breathing.
  •   Difficulty urinating.
  •   Inability to urinate.

What is the importance of urine tests in the early approach to kidney health?

With the necessary treatment protocols, the factors that cause kidney damage can be determined, and the destruction can be brought under control. With the necessary precautions, conditions that damage the kidneys can be better avoided. One of the most important ways to understand how well your kidneys are working is with a urine test. Thanks to urine tests, information about kidney function can be learned, and other problems in the body can be recognized.  With the help of some values obtained from urine tests, general diagnoses can be obtained about the body’s health.

References:

  1.     Li P, K, -T, Garcia-Garcia G, Lui S, -F, Andreoli S, Fung W, W, -S, Hradsky A, Kumaraswami L, Liakopoulos V, Rakhimova Z, Saadi G, Strani L, Ulasi I, Kalantar-Zadeh K: Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere – From Prevention to Detection and Equitable Access to Care. Nephron 2020;144:162-169. doi: 10.1159/000506963
  2.     Chen TK, Knicely DH, Grams ME. Chronic Kidney Disease Diagnosis and Management: A Review. JAMA. 2019 Oct 1;322(13):1294-1304. doi: 10.1001/jama.2019.14745. PMID: 31573641; PMCID: PMC7015670.
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