Kidney Myths: Separating Fact from Fiction

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2 million people globally are grappling with kidney failure, and that number keeps going up by 5-7% each year. Sadly, misconceptions and myths about kidney health often lead to confusion and prevent people from properly caring for their kidneys.

Myth 1: Drinking Lots of Water Can Harm Your Kidneys

One common misconception is that consuming too much water can strain the kidneys. However, staying hydrated is crucial for kidney function. Water helps kidneys remove waste and toxins while maintaining proper fluid balance. 

Myth 2: Kidney Disease Only Affects Older Adults

While kidney disease is more common in adults aged 65 and above, kidney issues can develop at any age, including in children. Be aware of the signs and symptoms, which may include:

  • Fever.
  • Swelling around the eyes, face, feet, and ankles (called oedema).
  • Burning or pain during urination.
  • Significant increase in the frequency of urination.
  • Difficulty in controlling urination in older children.
  • Recurrence of nighttime bedwetting (in children who have been dry for several months).
  • Blood in the urine.
  • High blood pressure.
Myth 3: Protein Supplements Improve Kidney Health

Excessive protein consumption may burden the kidneys, particularly those with renal problems. A balanced diet with modest protein consumption is essential for good health. Speaking with a healthcare practitioner before adding protein supplements to your diet is necessary, particularly if you have renal problems.

Myth 4: Kidney Disease Is Always Symptom-Free

Contrary to popular belief, kidney disease can present symptoms, especially in later stages. Symptoms may include fatigue, swelling, changes in urination patterns, nausea, and shortness of breath. However, kidney disease may not cause noticeable symptoms in the early stages, making regular check-ups and screenings important for early detection and intervention.

Myth 5: Dialysis Cures Kidney Disease

Dialysis is a life-saving treatment for individuals with advanced kidney failure, but it is not a cure. Dialysis helps remove waste and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys can no longer perform their functions adequately. However, it does not in itself restore kidney function. Kidney transplantation remains the best long-term solution for eligible patients with end-stage renal disease.

Myth 6: Herbal Supplements Are Safe for Kidney Health

Many people use herbal supplements for various health benefits, including kidney support. However, not all herbal products are safe; some may even harm kidney function. 

Myth 7: Drinking Cranberry Juice Prevents Kidney Stones

While cranberry juice is often recommended for urinary tract health, limited evidence supports its effectiveness in preventing kidney stones. Drinking too much cranberry juice can raise the risk of kidney stones because of its oxalate content.

Myth 8: Kidney Damage Is Irreversible

Even though kidney disease can worsen, catching and managing it earlier can help slow its progression and protect your kidney function. Making lifestyle changes like eating balanced meals, staying active, controlling blood pressure and blood sugar levels, quitting smoking, cutting back on alcohol, and taking prescribed medication can all play a part in keeping your kidneys healthy.

Myth 9: Over-the-Counter Painkillers are Safe for Kidneys

Many people believe that over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and aspirin are harmless, but prolonged use of these medications can damage the kidneys. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause acute kidney injury and may worsen existing kidney conditions, particularly in individuals with reduced kidney function or dehydration. Using these medications cautiously and following the recommended dosage and duration guidelines is essential.

Myth 10: Only People with High Blood Pressure and Diabetes are at Risk for Kidney Disease

While high blood pressure and diabetes are leading causes of kidney disease, they are not the only risk factors. Other conditions such as obesity, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, urinary tract infections, and certain medications can also increase the risk of kidney damage.