10 Common Habits that Can Harm Your Kidneys
February 07 2023
Learn Which Everyday Habits can Lead to Kidney Disease and How You can Stop Damaging These Important Organs
We all try to live as healthy a life as possible. There can be many factors that affect our health, including our socioeconomic status, access to care, access to nutritious foods or grocery stores, and our inherited health risks.
When we think of being healthy, we often think about weight or the pain we experience. But how often do you think about your kidneys? Most of us have two kidneys, located deep in the abdomen along either side of the spine.
The main job of the kidneys is to cleanse the blood of toxins and transform the waste into urine. When the kidneys aren’t functioning properly, those harmful toxins and excess fluids can build up in the body and may lead to kidney failure. Symptoms of kidney failure can include high blood pressure, extreme fatigue, persistent headaches, swelling in the face and ankles, as well as lower back pain.
What you may not know is that there are some common habits that can actually harm your kidneys.
1 | Overusing Painkillers
Over-the-counter pain medications such as NSAIDS and analgesics may alleviate aches and pains, but overusing them can harm your kidneys, especially if you already have kidney disease. Make sure that you take no more than the recommended amount of over-the-counter painkillers. If you have persistent pain that requires more than the recommended amount of over-the-counter meds to find relief, speak to your doctor about other options for managing your aches and pains.
2 | High Salt Intake
Abusing your salt shaker while cooking can increase your blood pressure, which can in turn harm your kidneys. Cut back on the salt in your diet by seasoning with herbs and spices instead of salt. Be sure to also look at the amount of sodium in pre-packaged foods and eat less cured meats to cut back on your sodium intake.
3 | Not Drinking Enough Water
Staying well hydrated allows your kidneys to clear sodium and toxins from your body. Being dehydrated can hinder that process. Drinking plenty of water not only helps flush toxins from your body, but it can also help you avoid developing painful kidney stones. Speak with your doctor about what amount of water is considered a healthy target for you to drink daily.
4 | Not Getting Enough Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is important to your overall health, but especially your kidney health. Kidney function is regulated by the sleep-wake cycle, helping to coordinate the kidney’s workload over 24 hours. Make sure you are getting the right amount of sleep and practice good sleep hygiene, including limiting screen time before bed.
5 | Eating Too Much Meat
Animal protein generates high amounts of acid in the blood. Eating too much meat can be harmful to the kidneys and cause acidosis, a condition in which the kidneys cannot eliminate acid fast enough. Acidosis can be life-threatening. Protein is needed for growth, upkeep, and repair of all parts of the body, so be sure to eat a balanced diet with fruits and veggies.
6 | High Sugar Intake
Too much sugar can lead to obesity, which can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes, two of the leading causes of kidney disease. While desserts and sweets are commonly thought of as a source for sugar, it is often added to other foods and drinks you may not consider “sweet,” such as condiments and white bread. Make sure you pay attention to ingredients when buying packaged goods and eat sweet treats in moderation.
7 | Smoking
Smoking is bad for your heart and lungs, but it’s also bad for your kidneys! People who smoke are more likely to have a protein in the urine that is a sign of kidney damage. Work with your doctor to find the right smoking cessation tools for you to help you avoid kidney disease, heart disease, cancer, and other negative health effects from smoking.
8 | Drinking Alcohol in Excess
Alcohol is considered a toxin to the body. When you drink alcohol heavily on a regular basis (more than four drinks a day), it can overload your kidneys and has been found to double the risk of chronic kidney disease. Those who drink and smoke heavily increase their risk of developing chronic kidney disease by five times. If you drink alcohol in excess, seek help from your doctor and other health professionals to get into recovery.
9 | Sedentary Lifestyle
Researchers aren’t sure why sedentary time or physical activity directly impacts kidney health, but sitting still for long periods of time has now been linked to the development of kidney disease. However, greater physical activity is associated with improving blood pressure and glucose metabolism, both of which are important factors in kidney health.
10 | Overtraining
It’s important to not go overboard on physical activity. Working out too hard for too long can actually cause a condition called rhabdomyolysis, in which damaged muscle tissue breaks down very fast. This dumps substances into your blood too quickly for your kidneys to handle, causing them to fail. If you are looking to get more active, work with a certified physical trainer who can help you build your workouts up gradually. Don’t suddenly make your physical activity more intense and avoid working out in high heat and humidity. Be sure to see your doctor if you have muscle pain and dark urine.
Chronic Kidney Disease and Caring for Patients with Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease, or kidney failure, involves a gradual loss of kidney functioning. During the early stages, you may have few signs or symptoms. Most do not realize they have kidney disease until the condition is considered advanced. Be sure to check out our seven tips to help manage and care for chronic kidney disease.
Home Healthcare for Kidney Patients
Our compassionate team is ready to assist you or your loved one! Our expert caregivers help our patients enjoy a higher quality of life in the comfort of their own home. We offer customized services and are always available any time, day or night, including weekends! Learn more about our services or contact us today!