Kidney Diseases

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Latest Edit: Iva Lloyd, ND 2018-07-25 (EDT)

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located below the ribs toward the middle of the back, one on each side of the spine.

Kidney crosssection.jpg

Functions of the Kidney

There are three main functions that the kidney serves:

  • Filters Blood
  • Kidneys remove extra water and wastes from the blood, producing urine.
  • Through the release of specific hormones the kidney is responsible for maintaining a stable balance of water, electrolytes and minerals.
  • Kidneys regulate the composition of extracellular fluid.
  • Produce Hormones
  • The hormones produced in the kidneys influence mineral metabolism, blood pressure regulation, bone formation and red blood cell formation.

Common Diseases

Kidney diseases commonly occur when there is damage to the nephrons, or filtering mechanism of the kidneys. This damage may leave kidneys unable to remove wastes. Common kidney diseases include:

Signs and symptoms of kidney dysfuction include:

  • fatigue, lack of concentration, poor appetite, or trouble sleeping
  • swelling or puffiness (edema), particularly around the eyes or in the face, wrists, abdomen, thighs or ankles
  • Urine that is foamy, bloody or coffee-coloured
  • A decrease in the amount of urine
  • Problems urinating, such as a burning feeling or abnormal discharge during urination, or a change in the frequency of urination, especially at night.
  • Protein in the urine
  • Mid-back pain (flank), below the ribs, near where the kidneys are located
  • High blood pressure
  • Puffy eyes, hands or feet
  • Decreased sexual desire

Associated Conditions

Kidney disease is often secondary to other conditions such as:

Treatment Considerations

  • Optimal fluid intake is required.
  • The best fluid to support kidney health is water.
  • If kidney function is compromised then the amount of fluid that the body can handle may need to be reduced.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Avoid drinks and foods high in sugar.
  • Decrease the consumption of water later in the evening if nocturia is a concern.
  • Foods that improve the urinary system
  • asparagus
  • parsley
  • watercress
  • celery
  • watermelon
  • figs
  • apples
  • Foods that may aggravate the urinary system
  • Smoking is a kidney and bladder irritant.