If you've ever been treated for a urinary tract infection, your doctor may have asked you if you felt any pain in your back. They weren't just taking a shot in the dark, they were checking your kidneys. This is because your kidneys play a crucial role in the health of your urinary system; in fact, they're so connected that a problem or condition in one may lead to the other, such as in the case of kidney stones and glomerulonephritis (when the kidney's filters become scarred and lose their ability to filter waste from blood to produce urine). Fortunately, this means that there are ways to care for your kidneys that can positively affect the rest of your urinary system. Let's take a look.
- Regulate your blood sugar levels. Approximately half of all people who have diabetes develop kidney damage. If you're in this position, you need to schedule regular tests to check your kidney functions in addition to keeping a close eye on your blood sugar levels. Kidney damage can be reduced or even prevented if it's detected early enough; care for your kidneys and they'll care for you.
- Eat healthy. More specifically, reduce your salt intake. Not only will this keep your kidneys healthy, but it may also prevent the development of heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions associated with chronic kidney disease. This means you should limit the number of processed foods (including fast food), and try not to add salt to your food. Instead, prepare your food yourself with fresh ingredients.
- Maintain a healthy fluid intake. Water is good for you! Consuming plenty of fluids helps your kidneys clear sodium, urea, and other toxins which can lower your risk of developing chronic kidney disease. Though you shouldn't go overboard, most doctors agree that about drinking 2 liters every day is a healthy amount. If you suffer from kidney stones, water is medically recommended to prevent new stones from forming.
If you're suffering from a urological illness or condition -- whether you rely on catheters, require the use of drain bags and holders, or are simply dealing with uncomfortable inflammatory conditions -- caring for your kidneys could help improve your experience. Remember to empty your drain bags and holders at least twice a day (or when it's half-full), and contact your doctor if problems arise.