“Look after your kidneys and your kidneys will look after you…” is the simple message being shared by health professionals during the week that celebrates World Kidney Day on 10 March 2016. More importantly, we are all being advised to help stay healthy by drinking enough fluids each day to keep our kidneys healthy. The long held suggested view is 1.5 to 2 litres (3 to 4 pints) of water per day.
Dr Richard Jones, Clinical Director from the Wessex Cardio-Vascular Network, NHS England, advises: “It’s important that people understand the role our kidneys play in keeping us healthy. Kidneys play a key role by filtering the blood of toxins which are eliminated from the body in our urine. Having healthy kidneys helps to maintain the body’s cardiovascular system; the system on which all the important organs, like heart, brain and lungs all depend. Drinking at least two litres a day and keeping salt intake levels down, helps maintain kidneys in a healthy condition. This becomes especially important during periods of illness such fever, diarrhoea and vomiting that can lead to dehydration and injure our kidneys. During such illnesses keeping up fluid intake is also very important in people taking medication for high blood pressure or heart failure”
Consuming plenty of fluid helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins from the body which and may help protect against the development of chronic kidney disease. It’s important to keep in mind that the right level of fluid intake for any individual depends on many factors including gender, exercise, climate, health conditions, pregnancy and breast feeding. In addition, people who have already had a kidney stone are advised to drink 2 to 3 litres of water daily to lessen the risk of forming a new stone.
Kidneys are essential to our health and one of the most important organs in the body. They get rid of excess water and toxins, regulate blood pressure, make red blood cells and keep bones strong. They are normally very efficient and it can be a long time before there are signs that something is wrong.
Kidney disease affects over 3 million people in the UK but up to a million of these people may be undiagnosed, which is worrying as kidney disease can’t be reversed. Kidney disease can occur for a number of reasons including problems with the immune system, infections or diabetes. Depending on the problem, early diagnosis and prompt treatment as well as changes in diet and lifestyle are vital and can often help slow down or prevent any further damage. Left unchecked, however, kidney disease can progress to kidney failure, which is fatal without treatment by dialysis or a kidney transplant. Children are also affected by kidney disease but they are more likely to experience the consequences of birth defects and inherited genetic kidney conditions.