8 Surprising Ways You May Be Hurting Your Kidneys

an image showing a kidney

Your kidneys are an important part of your body. They filter toxins from your blood, remove wastes, and keep your organs working properly, round-the-clock. By making it a priority to take care of your kidneys, you can reduce the risk of serious health issues and lead a higher quality of life. Below, we’ll dive deep into eight surprising ways you may be hurting your kidneys so you can change your habits and enjoy optimal kidney health.

1. Overusing Painkillers

While over-the-counter pain medicines are necessary in some cases as they can help with pain, taking them too often can take a toll on your kidneys. This is particularly true if you already have kidney disease. If you depend on painkillers for a long time, especially in high doses, they may harm your kidney tissues and reduce blood flow to the area. If necessary, consult your doctor for alternatives to painkillers. 

2. Adding Salt to Every Meal

There’s no denying that salt can spruce up bland foods and make them taste better. However, it may also raise your blood pressure and hurt your kidneys. Fortunately, there are many, healthier ways to add flavor to your meals. Swap the salt shaker with herbs and spices. You might even find that your foods taste better with these alternative options. 

3. Exposing Yourself to Dye in Imaging Tests

There’s a good chance you’ve had imaging tests, like x-rays, CT scans, and angiograms done. Since the dyes that these tests often use can lead to serious kidney issues, you should consult your doctor before undergoing them. They may recommend alternative diagnostic procedures that are safer for your kidneys.

4. Not Staying Hydrated

Staying hydrated can do wonders for your kidneys. Water has the power to remove toxins from your body and reduce the risk of kidney stones. That’s why you should try to drink at least six to eight ounce glasses of water each day. Note that if you already have kidney issues, you might need to limit your fluid intake. 

5. Eating Too Many Processed Foods

Processed foods are convenient. However, when you eat them too frequently, you may be hurting your kidneys. Here’s why: Most processed foods are loaded with sodium and phosphorus, which have been proven to harm kidneys and bones. Instead of processed foods, you might want to adopt the DASH diet, which focuses on fruits, veggies, and whole grains.

6. Not Sleeping Enough 

A good night’s sleep can lead to many health benefits, including improved kidney function. For this reason, you should get at least 6 to 8 hours of quality sleep each night. To do so, go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, ensure your bedroom is dark and comfortable, and turn off all distractions. If you’re struggling with sleep, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor as a sleep study may be worthwhile.

7. Smoking

Everyone knows that smoking is bad for your heart and lungs. However, many people are unaware that it can also harm your kidneys. If you’re a regular smoker, it may be time to quit, especially if you want to improve your kidney function. There are a variety of over-the-counter stop smoking aids and formal, medically-supervised programs that may make the process easier. 

8. Sitting Still Too Often

Depending on your lifestyle, you may find that you sit still for a long period of time. If this is the case, try to get up more frequently as excessive sitting can lead to the development of kidney disease. You can always try a standing desk if you have a job that requires you to sit a lot. An active lifestyle is key if you hope to achieve and maintain healthy kidneys.

Have Further Questions About Kidney Health? Contact Us Today

At Durham Nephrology, we’re experts in all things related to kidneys and kidney donations. We encourage you to reach out to us with any additional questions. 


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