Kidneys are 2 bean shaped organs about the size of a fist. They’re located just below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine. They filter about 120-150 quarts of blood to produce about 1-2 quarts of urine.
HOW THEY WORK
Blood enters the kidneys through an artery from the heart. The blood is then cleaned by passing through millions of tiny blood filters. Waste material passes through the ureter and is stored in the bladder as urine. Newly cleaned blood returns to the bloodstream by way of veins. When the bladder becomes full the urine passes out of the body through the urethra.
WHAT CAUSES CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE OR FAILURE
Diabetes and High Blood Pressure are the most common reasons for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) or Kidney Failure.
What many people don’t know is that over the counter painkillers and illegal drugs like heroin also damage the kidneys. 3-5% of new cases of CKD each year is caused by the overuse of painkillers like NSAIDS.
Drinking large amounts of dark colored soft drinks is also linked to to a higher risk of developing CKD. Early detection can help prevent the progression of kidney disease to kidney failure.
There are also inherited diseases, autoimmune diseases and malformations that occur while a baby develops in the womb that cause a narrowing that prevents a normal outflow of urine and causes urine to flow back up to the kidneys damaging them in the process.
KNOW YOUR URINE
The color of your urine says a lot about your kidney health.
- Clear/Pale yellow: Good means you’re well hydrated
- Dark Yellow: Dehydrated
- Pink/Reddish: Can be caused by food or blood in your urine
- Foaming/Fizzy: Protein is in your urine and is an early sign of kidney disease
There should never be protein in your urine. If your Doctor finds protein in your urine more than once it means CKD is present. Do not dismiss this finding.
It isn’t just Lithium that damages your liver and kidneys. Long term use of most psychiatric medications can cause kidney damage. Prozac is the one listed the most. Cholesterol medications have also been known to damage the kidneys.
My Primary Care Doctor had told me several times over the years that there was blood and protein in my urine. She eventually sent me to a specialist who said “Sometimes people just have blood and protein in their urine”. This is false.
I began to lose weight rapidly and had no appetite. My Doctor saw my weight loss as a good thing because I was 250 pounds. She also assumed it was due to my Bipolar medications. I had lost 50 pounds in 2 months. I continued to lose weight and my blood pressure became extremely low. Still, no one around me said anything. Not even when my weight reached 119 pounds and I had trouble just standing up.
No one said “You look great!” or “You look like a skeleton” they said nothing. I know why my sister didn’t say anything, she was upset that I weighed less than she did. She actually told me this later. What everyone else’s excuse was I don’t know. To lose that much weight in less than year and not think something is wrong seems odd to me.
Then one day I woke up and both my feet were quadruple in size. I was shocked. I knew it was a bad sign so I drove myself to the ER. The Doctor there told me I needed to call my family and have them get there as soon as possible, then he asked if I wanted to sign a DNR and see a Priest. I couldn’t reach any of my family before I crashed and everything was out of my hands. The Doctor ignored my DNR which was a good thing I guess.
There were so many missed signs and symptoms that went ignored by my Primary Care Doctor. Dealing with all of the doctors after wasn’t fun either. No one knew why I went into kidney failure. In the end I was left with 1 working kidney. It functions now at 67-68% but has Hydronephrosis which means it’s swollen twice it’s normal size. I will get progressively worse until I need dialysis or die.
My Bipolar medications and the medications I take for Social Phobia, PTSD, and Conversion Disorder, never really work right because my body isn’t filtering them the way it should. They either build up in my system so I have too much or I get none at all.
The worse part is my illnesses can’t be seen so most people think I’m lazy or want attention.
The fact is I’m dying. I’m sick all the time. If it isn’t my body it’s my brain. I’m tired of trying to make people understand.
I miss laughing with my best friend, I miss going out, I miss a lot of things.