BY: Alexandrea Holder
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March is National Kidney Month, meant to raise awareness about Chronic Kidney Disease and remind the public to take proper care of this vital organ. Kidneys perform several important functions including:
- filtering the blood
- removing waste and toxins
- maintaining fluid balance
- stimulating the production of red blood cells
- producing hormones for bone health
- regulating blood pressure
Although kidneys are so important to everyday life, it is estimated that about 30 million adults in the United States have Chronic Kidney Disease.
What is Chronic Kidney Disease?
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) occurs when the kidneys are damaged and cannot filter blood properly. Excess fluid and waste that would normally be filtered remain in the bloodstream, and this can cause other problems including heart disease, stroke, increased risk of infection, or anemia. CKD can be treated to slow its progress, but it will get worse over time and can eventually cause kidney failure. In these cases, dialysis or a kidney transplant is necessary to survive.
How Does Alcohol Affect the Kidneys?
One of the main risk factors for developing CKD is high blood pressure, and regular alcohol consumption can play a large part in this. Binge drinking is defined as drinking enough to bring a person’s blood alcohol concentration over .08%. While infrequent occurrences of this will only cause temporary blood pressure elevation, doing so consistently can have long-term negative effects. Frequent heavy drinking can cause chronic high blood pressure, putting the kidney at a higher risk of being damaged.
The kidneys are also affected by heavy alcohol consumption because of the strain that it puts on the liver. It is well known that chronic drinking can cause liver disease, and if the liver is not functioning properly, the kidneys have to work much harder. Damage to the liver impairs its ability to regulate blood flow going into the kidneys, and without this regulation, the kidneys cannot filter the blood properly. Because of this, liver disease and kidney disease often go hand in hand.
How to Prevent Chronic Kidney Disease
There are several things that can be done to help prevent kidney damage including:
- eating a healthy, low-salt diet
- exercising regularly
- monitoring and treating high blood pressure
- refraining from smoking tobacco
- limiting alcohol consumption
Alcoholism or frequent heavy drinking can cause a multitude of health problems, including kidney damage or disease, but treatment or rehabilitation can help prevent this from occurring. Make your health a priority and live a longer, fuller life by contacting Niznik Behavioral Health for a free consultation and assistance with treatment.