When you think of dehydration, you probably think of athletes chugging water during a game or people in hot climates sipping on fluids to prevent heat stroke. But dehydration can happen to anyone at any time, and it’s important to know the signs and symptoms.
Dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluid than it takes in, and it can lead to serious health problems if not treated promptly.
There are many body parts and organs that can be affected by dehydration. The question is, are kidneys one of them? Does dehydration damage kidneys?
Let’s find out together.
What Do Kidneys Do?
Your kidneys are hard at work 24/7, cleansing your blood and helping to regulate fluid levels in your body. They’re located just below your rib cage, on either side of your spine.
Let’s take an in-depth look at several things that the kidney does for the human body.
Filters Out Waste
Kidneys help to filter out waste products and excess fluids from the blood. These waste products and fluids become urine, which flows through tubes called ureters to the bladder where it is eventually eliminated from the body.
Without the kidneys, these waste products would build up in the blood and cause serious health problems.
Regulates Fluid Levels
Kidneys also help to regulate fluid levels in the body by removing excess fluids and returning them to circulation. They do this by controlling the amount of water that is excreted in the urine.
Maintains a Healthy Balance of Minerals
In addition, kidneys maintain a healthy balance of minerals in the blood, such as sodium, potassium, and phosphorus.
They do this by filtering out excess minerals and returning them to circulation or eliminating them in urine.
Regulates Blood Pressure
Another function kidneys have is to help regulate blood pressure and volume by controlling the production of a hormone called erythropoietin (which stimulates the production of red blood cells) and another hormone that helps regulate blood pressure (renin).
Without the kidneys to regulate blood pressure, too high or too low blood pressure. In both cases, they bring about many negative symptoms to a person which could lead to death.
Ensures Healthy Bones
One of the final responsibilities that kidneys have is to ensure that the bones inside our bodies are healthy. The kidneys also produce an active form of vitamin D. This vitamin helps promote strong and healthy bones.
So, Does Dehydration Damage Kidneys?
Now that we know a little more about what the kidneys do, let’s answer the question: does dehydration cause damage to the kidneys?
Dehydration can lead to kidney stones and other kidney problems. When you’re dehydrated, your urine becomes more concentrated. This change in composition can cause minerals in your urine to crystallize and form stones. This may also cause urinary tract infections.
In addition, dehydration can also cause renal failure. This is when the kidneys are no longer able to filter out waste products and excess fluids from the blood effectively. Renal failure can be acute (sudden) or chronic (long-term).
Finally, even mild dehydration can cause permanent damage to the kidneys moving forward.
How to Avoid Dehydrated Kidneys?
The first step to avoiding dehydrated one’s kidneys is knowing that they are a possibility. With that out of the way, let’s look at several ways how a person can avoid having dehydrated kidneys.
Water Is Your Best Friend
The natural counter to dehydration is water. As such, it is essential to drink as much water as possible. Some people may argue that any type of fluid is good for rehydration. However, when it comes to the health of the kidneys, water is still the best bet.
The saying “eight glasses of water a day” is currently a common saying that many people believe. However, it currently lacks evidence. Instead, the best practice is to have as much water intake as needed. It also would be a good idea to drink as often as possible. Perhaps every morning, noon, and night.
Watch the Weather
Many people get into a rhythm throughout their days. While routine is good, it may often have people ignore other factors that could affect people. One of these is the weather.
Watch for the weather on news channels or online.
When it gets too hot, take it as a sign to take in more water at more frequent periods of the day. This ensures that the heat won’t have any effect on you and that you keep dehydration at bay.
Track Urine Color
One telltale sign of dehydration comes in the colour of your urine. If you have been drinking water regularly, the urine colour ranges from a lighter shade of yellow to a clear hue. This means that you are well hydrated.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, if your urine is leaning towards a lighter brown colour, that is a sign that you are dehydrated.
The fluids are taken into the body to dilute the original pigments of urine. That is why drinking more water makes urine a lighter yellow to clear. At the same time, a lack of water intake creates a deeper pigment due to its concentration.
How to Avoid Kidney Damage?
We now know how a lack of water dehydrates kidneys. However, dehydration is not the only cause of kidney damage and failure. Here are additional tips that you can use to protect your kidneys.
Watch Out For Other Diseases
Kidney damage is a symptom of many other diseases and conditions. Things like diabetes and blood pressure only serve to increase the chance of kidney damage to come about.
With that said, many factors contribute to these kidney affecting conditions. Sugar intake for instance increases the risk for diabetes. On the other hand, salt intake increases the likelihood of blood pressure problems.
While this may seem oppressive, it stands as a warning to have everything in moderation.
One of the best things a person can do to maintain a healthy kidney is to exercise regularly.
Regular exercise does wonder for a person. Apart from maintaining a healthy weight, exercise can also help keep things like diabetes and blood pressure in control.
Avoid Smoking and Drinking Alcohol
It may also prove useful to avoid smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol.
When drinking a lot of alcohol, increases a person’s blood pressure. At the same time, the excess sugar from certain alcoholic beverages could lead to an increase in weight.
Smoking has a more direct effect on a person’s kidneys as it may affect the flow of blood. This restriction of blood flow even reaches the kidneys.
These two things can directly damage a person’s kidneys, even if they do not have any pre-existing kidney diseases.
Dehydrated Kidneys are Nothing to Kid About
Dehydrated kidneys are nothing to joke about. Damaged kidneys have many negative effects such as kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and renal failure among others. If anything, it serves to underlie the importance of water and what it does for us.
Apart from serving as a reminder to drink water regularly, it also reminds us that everything we do is interconnected. Sometimes, simple things such as our intake of sugar can affect our bodies, and subsequently our kidneys.
We hope that everything we’ve shared with you will give you a better appreciation for your kidneys.
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