Today is dedicated to raising awareness about an underrated but integral part of all of our lives- that’s right, today is World Kidney Day.
The kidneys are the organs responsible for filtering the body’s blood and removing toxins for excretion in the urine, as well as controlling blood pressure and regulating the blood’s water, sodium, and potassium levels which must be kept within a relatively tight range in order for the body to function. While other organs, like the heart, get a lot of attention, healthy kidney function is also essential to overall health and wellness.
With college students across the country going on spring break, kidneys everywhere are experiencing increased risk for impairment and disease. That’s because alcohol consumption impairs the kidneys’ ability to regulate fluid, electrolyte, and acid-base balance in the body, even during acute periods of heavy consumption.
Especially of concern during periods of heavy drinking is the potential to sustain acute kidney injury. This occurs when blood alcohol levels rise to dangerous levels, causing a sharp decrease in kidney function, and requiring temporary dialysis until normal function returns. These injuries usually heal with time, but have the potential to inflict lasting damage on the kidneys. Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to liver disease, which then negatively impacts the kidneys’ ability to function normally.
In addition to keeping your alcohol consumption in check, other ways to prevent kidney disease include:
- reducing high blood pressure
- reducing sodium intake
- increasing physical activity
- maintaining a healthy body weight
- avoiding or quitting smoking
- managing blood glucose for those with diabetes
So enjoy your spring break, but try your best to take care of those kidneys!