Your next bathroom break may expose more than you realize. Before you flush valuable health information down the drain, get better acquainted with your urine — a byproduct of the kidneys’ complex filtration system. These are the top 5 ways urine can reveal important information about your kidneys as well as your overall health, according to the National Kidney Foundation.
1. Whether you’re hydrated. If your urine is dark yellow, you could be dehydrated. Each day the kidneys filter 200 liters of blood, removing toxins, waste products and excess fluid. This process creates approximately 1-2 quarts of urine. Hydration status affects the concentration of wastes in the urine. Aim for clear urine. When dehydrated, urine is likely to be more yellow, “or darker,” and the body isn’t going to produce as much of it. Dehydration can also cause kidney stones, because it allows for stone-causing minerals to concentrate and settle in the kidneys and urinary tract. One of the best measures you can take to avoid kidney stones is to drink plenty of water, requiring you to urinate a lot.
2. If you have an early marker of kidney damage. Protein in the urine is one of the earliest signs of kidney damage, especially in people with diabetes. At your annual physical, be sure to ask your health care provider for a urinalysis, especially if you’re at increased risk for kidney disease due to diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of kidney failure.
3. If you have diabetes. If your urine has a “sweet” smell, it may indicate the presence of sugar. When there is too much sugar in the bloodstream and the body isn’t processing it effectively, the kidneys work overtime to try and remove it from the body. Sugar in the urine can indicate diabetes or pre-diabetes, so it’s important to get additional blood testing for diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease and even pre-diabetes can damage the kidneys making it important to receive a diagnosis and treatment.
4. Presence of a urinary tract infection (UTI). A UTI occurs when bacteria (germs) get in the urinary tract and multiply. The urinary tract is made up of the bladder, urethra, ureters and kidneys. Bacteria usually enter the urinary tract through the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. If a UTI is not treated promptly, bacteria can move up to the kidneys and cause a more serious type of infection. Symptoms of UTIs include an urgent need to urinate (often with only a few drops of urine to pass), a burning feeling when urinating, cloudy or blood-tinged urine and a strong odor to the urine.
5. If you have blood in your urine. Does your urine have a pink hue? If you recently ate beets or foods with beet-based dyes, your diet could be the culprit. A funny smell? Diet may also be to blame. Certain foods, such as asparagus, can impact the appearance and scent of your urine. The same holds true for medications and supplements, so pay attention to whether urinary changes coincide with any dietary changes. The presence of red blood cells can also make your urine appear more pink or red, so it’s important to recognize your body’s normal reactions to different foods and medications. Urine can offer clues into your health, but it’s critical to know when to follow up with your healthcare provider so that in the event of a more serious condition, such as blood in the urine, you obtain the necessary testing and diagnosis.
About The Kidneys
The kidneys are two, fist-sized organs in your lower back. They maintain overall health through the following functions:
• Filtering waste out of 200 liters of blood each day.
• Regulating of the body’s salt, potassium and acid content.
• Removing of drugs from the body.
• Balancing the body’s fluids.
• Releasing hormones that regulate blood pressure.
• Producing an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones.
• Controlling the production of red blood cells.
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease for hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals, millions of patients and tens of millions of Americans at risk. For more information, visit www.kidney.org.
The National Kidney Foundation is urging Americans to take a
moment to learn the top five facts about kidney disease.
1. Kidney disease kills more people each year than breast and prostate cancer combined.
2. Risk factors for kidney disease include: high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney stones, a family history of kidney failure, prolonged use of some over-the-counter pain medications, and being over the age of 60.
3. Because kidney disease often has no symptoms, it can go undetected until it is very advanced. Protein in the urine is the earliest marker of kidney damage. Simple urine and blood tests done annually can save people’s health.
4. Early detection can slow or prevent progression of kidney disease. Untreated, kidney disease can lead to kidney failure and the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant
5. There are 120,000 Americans currently on the waiting list for an organ transplant. Of those, more than 96,000 need a kidney, yet fewer than 17,000 people receive one each year. On average, 13 people die every day waiting for a kidney.