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Kidneys are one of the most important organs in the human body – they detoxify the blood and flush out waste materials through the urine, essentially acting as the body’s filter for toxins. They are also responsible for eliminating excess water from the body or retaining it when required. Kidneys regulate the levels of minerals such as potassium and calcium in the body,and there’s more: they also regulate your blood pressure and produce important hormones, besides producing red blood cells which carry oxygen to the body tissues.

As you can see, the kidneys are responsible for different functions so it’s crucial we keep them running properly. The usual symptoms of kidney problems are change in the quality and color of your urine, vomiting, dizziness, nausea, breathing problems, anemia, fatigue, feeling cold all of the time, sudden pain, itchy skin, etc.

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should visit a doctor in order to prevent kidney disease. Kidney problems and damage are caused by different factors, but the following 10 are considered the most common:

  1. Delaying urination

You need to understand that not emptying your bladder on time is the main cause of kidney damage. This way, your urine sits in your bladder, allowing bacteria to multiply quickly and increasing the risk of kidney and urinary tract infections. Delaying urination will eventually resultin renal failure – change the habit before it becomes too late!

  1. Insufficient water intake

Not drinking enough water can lead to serious kidney problems. When the body lacks water, the blood gets too concentrated which makes the blood flow to the kidneys reduced, leading to impaired kidney function and retaining toxins inside the body. Adults need to drink 10-12 glasses of water daily to keep properly hydrated, but don’t drink more as too much water can also harm the kidneys.

  1. High salt intake

Consuming excess amounts of salt can lead to serious kidney damage and serious diseases as well. 95% of the sodium we intake through food is metabolized by the kidneys, so consuming too much salt will overload the organs and reduce their function. This will result in water retention which can increase the risk of kidney disease and high blood pressure. According to studies, salt intake increases the amount of urinary protein, a major factor for kidney disease. The recommended amount of salt is 5 gr. daily, so you need to stick to it in order to prevent further problems.

  1. Regular analgesics use

People usually take analgesics and over-the-counter drugs to lower inflammation and fever and to reduce pain. However, this damages the kidneys and other organs. According to studies, analgesics can reduce the blood flow to the kidney and spoil their function, while long-term use of analgesics can cause acute kidney injury and intestinal nephritis. People with reduced kidney function should consult their doctor before taking painkillers – people with normal kidney functions should use carefully as well.

  1. High protein diet

Excess intake of protein-rich foods can increase the risk of kidney disease. Kidneys metabolize and eliminate nitrogenous waste from the body, which is a by-product of protein digestion. High protein intake raises the glomerular pressure and hyper filtration, increasing the metabolic load of the kidneys and the risk of kidney disease as well. Limit the amount of red meat you consume in order to prevent further complications.

  1. Too much alcohol

Alcohol is a powerful toxin that stresses the kidneys and other organs. Excessive alcohol intake can cause severe kidney damage, which is why you should limit the amount of your favorite drinks. Too much alcohol will store uric acid in the renal tubules, causing tubular obstruction and increasing the risk of renal failure. Alcohol will also dehydrate your organs and impair normal kidney function. The recommended daily amount of alcohol is 1 drink for women and old people, and 2 for men.

  1. Smoking

Smoking is bad for every organ in the body, but it’s especially harmful to your kidneys. According to the American Association of Kidney Patients, smoking is the #1 cause of end stage renal disease (ESRD). Smoking increases your heart rate and blood pressure while decreasing the blood flow and narrowing the blood vessels in the kidneys. This awful habit will aggravate existing kidney disease, and impair the organs’ normal function.

  1. Too much caffeine

Drinking too much coffee will raise your blood pressure and overload the kidneys, eventually leading to kidney damage. According to a 2002 study, consumption of caffeine is related to kidney stones, and coffee can also raise the concentration of calcium in your urine. On the other hand, consuming moderate amount of coffee is fine – 3 cups of tea and 1-2 cups of coffee daily is enough. However, you should know that caffeine is also present in cocoa, soft drinks, chocolate, certain drugs, which is why you need to eliminate them from your diet.

  1. Ignoring common infections

Ignoring coughs, colds, the flu, tonsillitis, pharyngitis and other common infections can result in kidney damage. Not treating these infections on time will overload the kidneys with bacteria and result in kidney damage, so take antibiotics and rest properly to prevent further problems.

  1. Lack of sleep

People ignore the importance of sleep due to our modern, hectic lifestyle. 6-8 hours of sleep is recommended for proper overall health. Organ tissues are being renewed overnight, so if you don’t rest properly, you interrupt this crucial process and damaging your organs, including the kidneys.

According to several studies, improper sleep can clog your arteries and increase your blood pressure, eventually increasing the risk of kidney damage. Try to balance work and rest, and adopt healthy sleeping habits to protect your kidneys and your overall health.