7 Damaging Habits That Pose a Serious Threat to Your Kidney Health
Today, I’m going to share with you seven awful habits that can damage your kidney health. Kidney disease is quite prevalent in America; over 37 million Americans have it, and 33 percent are at risk, many of whom don’t even know it. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common causes of kidney failure in America, but there are other causes as well, other habits you may have. So today, I’m going to share with you seven awful habits that can damage your kidney health. Keep reading.
Seven awful habits that can damage your kidney health:
If you have a high salt intake, this could lead to kidney failure. I’ll tell you how. Salt is a risk factor for high blood pressure, and high blood pressure is the second most common cause of kidney failure. If you have an excessive amount of salt intake, that can cause you to retain water, retain the salt, and can lead to elevated blood pressure, which can damage your kidneys and could ultimately lead to you being on dialysis or requiring a transplant. The average person should be taking in around 2 grams (2,000 milligrams) of sodium or less, and even if you’re doing Himalayan salt or sea salt, there is still sodium.
If you have a habit of not drinking enough water and getting dehydrated, this could be an awful habit that can lead to kidney disease. The kidneys need an adequate water supply, fluid supply. You must be properly hydrated in order for the kidneys to do well. When you are dehydrated, this causes a condition called pre-renal azotemia, which can lead to acute kidney injury and even chronic kidney disease.
Please consult your physician to find out the amount of fluid intake that is adequate for you. A round number for many people is from two to three liters of water intake per day, that’s anywhere from four to six 16-ounce bottles of water a day. But if you have congestive heart failure or lung disease, then your doctor may want you to be on a fluid restriction, so consult your doctor.
I recommend that you drink mostly water, tea, coffee, lemonade, cranberry juice. These drinks do not substitute water. At any rate, I want you to remember that being dehydrated is another awful habit that can lead to kidney damage.
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3. Pain meds
If you have a habit of taking certain pain meds, then this could lead to kidney damage. The pain meds I’m speaking of specifically are the NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Now don’t get me wrong, NSAIDs certainly have their place. They are great anti-inflammatory drugs, and if you have no kidney disease and you stay well hydrated, then certainly NSAIDs may be alright for you.
However, if you are a person who takes NSAIDs in excess and you already have vulnerable kidneys, like if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, if you’re dehydrated, then the NSAIDs can actually worsen your kidney health. NSAIDs include drugs like ibuprofen, naproxen, Celebrex, Motrin – all of these things are NSAIDs. People who have chronic pain like chronic lower back pain, chronic headaches, migraines, severe arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, these people may be at risk for taking too many NSAIDs. And if you take too many NSAIDs, as in you take more than the way they are prescribed, or if you have vulnerable kidneys and even if you take the NSAIDs the way they are prescribed and you have dehydration, then the NSAIDs can lead to something called NSAID nephropathy.
So please consult your physician; find out if it is safe for you to take NSAIDs and how many you should take because overuse of NSAIDs is a habit that could damage your kidney health.
4. Excessive alcohol
If you drink alcohol in excess, this could be a habit that can damage your kidney health. So what is too much alcohol? Well, don’t worry, we have it down to a science. It is recommended that men should drink no more than two drinks a day; women should drink no more than one drink a day. And if you are a man over the age of 65, you should drink no more than one drink a day.
Now, what is a drink?
This is where it gets tricky. Don’t worry, I’ll give you specifics. One drink is 12 grams of ethanol. So if you look at it in terms of beer, one drink is 12 ounces of beer. Wine, one drink is eight ounces of wine. And if you like your stronger liquor, if you like the 80-proof drinks, then just 1.5 ounces is a drink. So again, for men, no more than two drinks a day; for women, no more than one drink a day; and for men over 65, no more than one drink a day.
Why is that?
Excessive alcohol use can lead to hypertension, and again, hypertension is one of the leading causes of kidney failure. The other thing about alcohol is that if you drink alcohol in excess, it can cause you to use the restroom a lot. It can make you urinate a lot. And when you urinate in excess, you become dehydrated. And remember, dehydration can damage the kidneys. So excessive alcohol intake is another one of these habits that can damage your kidney health.
5. Smoking cigarettes
If you look at the risk factors for many diseases, you will find that smoking cigarettes is often on the list. Well, kidney disease is no different, and smoking cigarettes is another awful habit that can damage your kidney health. When you smoke cigarettes, this can lead to poor circulation and it can lead to your kidneys not getting adequate blood flow, which can lead to kidney failure. Also, smoking is a risk factor for renal cell carcinoma or kidney cancer. So, smoking cigarettes is another bad habit that can damage your kidney health.
6. Illegal drugs
If you have a drug habit, then this is an awful habit that can lead to kidney damage. There are certain drugs, in particular, like cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, also known as mali (MDMA), all of these can potentially lead to kidney damage. Now, look at cocaine. Cocaine can actually cause your blood vessels to tighten or constrict, and this can lead to hypertension or high blood pressure, again, high blood pressure is a leading cause of kidney damage.
If you use heroin, this can also lead to kidney failure, especially if the heroin is mixed with something like talc or other foreign substances which are toxic to the kidneys. And then there is ecstasy or molly, when you take ecstasy, it can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension), which again is a leading cause of kidney failure. It can also cause dehydration, which can lead to kidney damage. And in some patients who take ecstasy, they can get something called rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdomyolysis occurs when you have a breakdown of muscle cells and the pigment inside of the muscles, the myoglobin can be toxic to the kidneys.
7. Excessive strenuous exercise
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying for you not to exercise, but if you over-exercise, if your exercise is over-strenuous, then this also can lead to the rhabdomyolysis I was just speaking of. And yes, I have patients who see me in my clinic with rhabdomyolysis due to excessive exercise. They may present with symptoms like very sore muscles. And so, I know a lot of times you’re told, “No pain, no gain,” but there is a limit in how far you push yourself. Because if you’re really over-exerting yourself, then you could be literally ripping your muscles apart. You could be getting that rhabdomyolysis where the pigment from inside of the muscles is damaging your kidneys.
So, in addition to having extreme muscle pain, they may actually get swelling of their muscles. Their urine can change colors. Patients with rhabdomyolysis from strenuous exercise may get dark or a Coca-Cola-colored urine. And yes, I have had to dialyze patients due to rhabdomyolysis from over-strenuous exercise. And again, please do not take this to mean that I’m saying don’t exercise. I want you to exercise. Just make sure that it’s not over-strenuous to the point where you’re getting rhabdomyolysis. Yes, I want you to exercise.