The prevalence of kidney disease is frightening and our increased toxin exposure continues to compromise the proper functioning of this detoxifying organ. What’s worse, is that people often don’t recognize early symptoms related to kidney damage, and as a result more harm is inflicted on this precious organ until someone winds up in the hospital with kidney stones or dialysis.
It doesn’t have to be this way, if you can recognize early signs that your kidneys are suffering and take action to naturally restore their function. To that end, here are the most common signs of kidney damage, and the foods, herbs, and lifestyle actions you can take to improve its livelihood.
Common signs of kidney damage
Lower back pain
One of the first and most consistent signs of kidney damage, or just slow and unhealthy kidneys, is lower back pain.
Sometimes it’s only on one side, which occurs if someone sleeps on only one side, and this will be the side the kidney is having more problems with due to gravity. Toxins are often heavy and sink to the bottom. The kidney dealing with the heavier fluids will be in more pain. But in most cases, at least shortly after it’s on one side only, the pain will move to both sides.
This is a typical example of the beginning of a kidney infection or any kind of kidney disorder: You wake up in the morning or even in the middle of the night and your lower back, one side or both, ache. You go to urinate and it may or may not come easily. Then your back loosens up a bit and feels much better. You may also notice your urine is darker than usual or has a distinctly stronger odour. It may also sink to the bottom of the toilet bowl.
These are all early warning signs of kidney damage, and is much more easily treatable if addressed quickly.
Rashes, itching, and dryness
Kidneys filter our fluids and help remove wastes from the bloodstream, so when they are not functioning correctly the build up of wastes in your blood can cause rashes, severe itching, and dryness. Irritated eyes (especially in the morning), dry flaky scalp, hair loss, and cuticle tears are also signs of poor kidney health.
These are often early signs of kidney damage, and should be taken seriously. Avoid the temptation to treat it with topical creams, which does nothing to rectify the actual problem, and in fact typically make matters worse.
If the body cannot stay hydrated properly toxins build up, sebum gets dry (sebum is that waxy white stuff you have seen come out of zits), and then the sebum gets clogged trying to exit the pores of your skin to do it’s job lubricating.
The sebum (which also is likely made from rancid and unhealthy fats processed by a toxic liver) now irritates the pore while it builds up with nowhere to go. Irritation damages cells which attract infection. Slow, toxic kidneys are the number one cause of acne.
Changes in urinary function
Since kidneys make urine, when they are failing your urinary patterns or function may change. Some examples of this change include:
- Urine may be foamy or bubbly
- You may start getting up more in the night to urinate
- You may urinate more often, or in greater amounts than usual, with pale urine
- You may urinate less often, or in smaller amounts than usual, with dark gold, dark yellow, brown, or red colored urine
- Your urine may sink (become concentrated) to the bottom of the toilet
- You may feel pressure or have difficulty urinating
- Your urine may contain bloo
Preliminary changes in urinary function are moderate signs of kidney problems, with change in color being a sign of more acute damage.
Swelling and puffiness in various areas
Kidneys remove wastes and extra fluid from the body, so when they are not working properly and are unable to perform this function, extra fluid will build up. This often causes swelling in the face, hands, legs, ankles, and feet. If you notice persistent puffiness around the eyes, it can also be a sign that your kidneys are not filtering properly and are leaking a large amount of protein in the urine, rather than keeping it in the body.
At this point, kidney damage has become much more acute and should be addressed immediately. Most people with this kind of issue have many other symptoms as well.
Fatigue and weakness
Your kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoietin, which helps make red blood cells that carry oxygen. When you have kidney disease it lowers the levels of this hormone, which causes decreased red blood cells in your body resulting in anemia.
This decreased oxygen delivery to cells causes fatigue and general weakness, and should be addressed quickly.
Causes of kidney damage
One of the major sources of kidney problems is through the heavy metal cadmium, which primarily enters the environment through the burning of oil and coal and the incineration of municipal waste. Cadmium is also found in phosphate fertilizers which contaminates our food supply, as well as in healthy foods such as chocolate (even organic).
It’s important to note that smokers directly inhale cadmium into the lungs, and contain more than twice the amount of cadmium as non-smokers. Those that regularly drink alcohol will also see diminished function of their kidneys.
Finally, a bacterial infection can often make it’s way up into the kidneys through the urinary tract, from improper bathroom hygiene or even holding your urine for too long. This can compromise kidney function and damage them if left unattended.
How to improve kidney function
There are several ways to improve kidney function through diet and lifestyle. The key is to eliminate the pressures that caused the kidney dysfunction in the first place, and use food, herbs, and lifestyle habits that contribute to it’s health. Some great ways to start to improve kidney function include:
- Don’t smoke and avoid environments and products (like chocolate) that contain excessive amounts of cadmium.
- Don’t drink coffee, caffeinated products, soda, or sugary products.
- Don’t take pain medication unless absolutely necessary.
- Exercise and sweat.
- Stay hydrated. Drink 1 litre of water for every 25 kilograms you weigh.
- Consider herbal support like corn silk, juniper berries, uva ursi, horsetail herb, burdock root, and goldenrod.
- Consider the “stone breaker” herb, chanca piedra, to help break up and easily pass kidney stones.
Improving any kidney damage may take some time, but it will be well worth it when you avoid the pain and suffering that can come with poor kidney function, including the passing of a large kidney stone. To get the diet, lifestyle, and support to do it quickly and safely, consider the THRIVE Online Health Program.
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The Kidney Foundation of Canada
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