Can Kidney Function Be Restored?

Your kidneys are responsible to many body functions, especially to provide normal and healthy-balance blood. They can filter about a quarter of blood in the body every day, filtering what to remove and what to keep. This aggressive task puts them at risk of getting damaged, particularly if you have lifestyle or environmental factors that make them work harder than usual. There are several ways to help keep and improve your kidney function. But can it be restored?

How do you lose your kidney function?

There are lots of things that your kidneys do to support many body functions. But in essence, they are very important to remove unnecessary things (such as wastes, excess water, or excess minerals) and reabsorb necessary things (such as nutrient or to retain water if you’re being dehydrated) from bloodstream.

image_illustration407In addition to keep you have healthy-balance, normal blood – they also play a key role to release some important hormones, these include:

  1. Renin, essential hormone to help regulate blood pressure. Kidney damage can be a cause and a consequence of high blood pressure.
  2. EPO or erythropoietin, it is required to help stimulate the production of red blood cells in bone marrow. Lack of EPO in people with kidney disease is often to blame for anemia.
  3. An active form of vitamin D called Calcitriol. The body needs this hormone to help maintain calcium, essential mineral to keep your bones strong. The balance of calcium is also linked to the normal chemical balance in the body. Calcitriol is required to help the gut to absorb your dietary calcium. Kidney disease can lead to low calcitriol, putting you at high risk of bone fractures (osteoporosis).

You lose your kidneys function if they are no longer to support your body’s needs. This is what we call as kidney failure or end-stage renal disease (the last stage of kidney disease).

In general, the diagnosis of kidney failure is made if:

  1. Your glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is lower than 15. GFR is a test that can reveal how well your kidneys work. It can also be used to determine the stage of chronic kidney disease. It is calculated from different variables that include your blood creatinine test, body size, gender, and age. Lower GFR means lower performance of the kidneys.
  2. You have lost about 85-90 percent of your kidney function.
  3. The kidneys are not well enough to support the body’s needs or to keep you alive.

Diabetes (chronic high blood sugar) and hypertension (high blood pressure) are two leading risk factors of kidney failure.

Other risk factors include; obesity, a family history of the same condition, a personal history of acute kidney injury, heart problems, stroke, and age (the risk raises with age).

Diet high in sodium

Large amounts of dietary sodium (salt) can lead to high blood pressure. And again, chronic high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of kidney failure. It does hurt the kidneys over time.

However, your body needs sodium, too. Just make sure to eat it in moderation (not more than 2,300 mg a day), especially if you’re an individual with hypertension or have medical conditions that can raise your blood pressure more easily!

Diet high in sugar

The candy bowl and doughnut are great in taste, and many people love them a lot. But they are overloaded with sugar. Too much sugar in your diet is a risk factor of type-2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes mellitus. Diet high in sugar is also linked to obesity. And all of these things can hurt your kidneys and make them work harder.

The overuse of certain pain medications

Pain medications such as NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) may cause serious damage to the kidneys, especially true if you take them excessively and in long term.

In fact pain medication overuse is a main culprit for some cases of chronic kidney disease (CKD). To keep safe, it’s much better to consult first with a doctor before taking any pain medication particularly if you want to take it for a long duration of time!

What else?
  1. Excessive exposure to contrast dyes which are commonly used in imaging tests such as X-rays and CT-scan. This exposure ma cause acute kidney injury. If you need to take an imaging test, make sure that your physicians check your kidney function first!
  2. Exposure to tobacco smoke. It is often associated with the risk of lung and heart problems. But did you know that it can also hurt and damage your kidneys? Some studies suggest that smokers tend to have abnormal protein in their urine that may signal kidney damage. Stop smoking immediately if you are an active smoker! Even secondhand smoke may also have an effect!

Can the Kidneys Repair Themselves?

Regeneration is, of course, the key of the natural mechanism of the body’s cells to repair themselves. Many medical conditions are not able to be cured and become chronic because they’re a consequence of serious or even permanent damage to tissues or organs beyond the ability of the body’s natural repair mechanism.

Kidney disease can be acute or chronic.  Again, it can lead to a condition called end-stage kidney failure, when the kidney stops working. When the kidney is damaged beyond repair, kidney transplantation or dialysis is the answer of the treatment – but this is not a cure. Even people with kidney transplant can still have chronic kidney disease and may require some of the other medicines.

Actually, many parts of your body are designed almost perfectly. For some that are vulnerable to get damaged because of their aggressive job, they are also naturally designed to quickly repair themselves. But this natural repair ability is limited.

And the same goes for your kidneys. They are one of some parts of the body that actually ranks very highly in their natural ability to repair themselves. But this regeneration is also limited.

Can Kidney Function Be Restored?

Typically, kidney function naturally decreases with age. But some factors can make this progression go faster. Can it be restored? The answer varies from case to case. But in general, it’s dependent on the following factors: