Let us take a moment to speak the praises of the often-underrecognized kidney. This hard-working body organ acts like a daily garbage pickup and disposal, as well as a recycling company.
Why is that so important? Because detoxifying your bloodstream is quintessential to maintaining good health. You may have heard people speak about “kidney failure” as the final stage before death, which should tell you something about the critical nature of its place in your body’s homeostasis.
Besides cleansing urinary outflow, your kidneys make sure your electrolytes are all in place, and that many other body functions, including good blood pressure and healthy red blood cell counts, are “in the zone.”
Now that you know how key your kidneys are to your survival and good health, what should you look for to make sure they are functioning at their highest and best levels?
Well, like many symptoms, the things you will notice when your kidneys are underperforming may mimic symptoms of other diseases and malfunction as well, so take that into consideration before you panic. But if you notice any of the following happening, you will certainly want to get in to see your doctor as quickly as possible.
Because your kidneys are the primary export system for your urine, any alterations in that fluid should be considered a possible harbinger of kidney issues. You’ll want to watch for any changes to frequency or pressure of eliminations, unusual coloring of fluid, or dramatic differences in quantity, either higher or lower than normal.
Another thing that can be a sign of diminished kidney function (but that can also be almost anything else, from an allergic reaction to simple water retention from overdosing on sodium) is any kind of swelling or bloating. You may notice it just about anywhere, but typically, you’ll see it in your ankles, feet, hands, and possibly even your face.
We all know that shortness of breath is most often considered a sign of a possible impending heart attack, so it should never be taken lightly. But difficulty breathing can also mean your kidneys aren’t efficiently regulating your red blood cell count, which directly impacts your body’s oxygen levels. Of course, having trouble breathing can also be an allergic reaction or simply mean you’re out of shape and have over-exerted yourself, but it’s best to be extra cautious and get checked out if you notice this happening.
More signs to watch for that might indicate kidney malfunction include sudden episodes of dizziness or even fainting, that awful metallic taste that we know can come from some medicines (but might be a sign of poor kidney cleansing activity), sudden inexplicable breakouts or rashes, or increased fatigue that can’t be pinned down to a simple lack of sleep or overexertion.
Finally, and perhaps most obviously, watch out for pain in the area under your ribcage where your kidneys sit. If, on top of this, you also have trouble urinating, you may have kidney stones and should be examined by a doctor immediately. There are some new noninvasive treatments for this painful condition, but you’ll want to act sooner rather than later to avoid potential surgery.
As with everything in life, forewarned is forearmed. Tune in to your own body and listen closely to what your kidneys may be telling you: they have a lot to say when it comes to maintaining your best personal health.
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