Kidney Problems - Frequently Asked Questions
What can cause a kidney infection?
Kidney infection typically occurs when bacteria enter your urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply. Bacteria from an infection elsewhere in your body also can spread through your bloodstream to your kidneys.
How do I prevent a kidney infection?
To prevent kidney infections, drink plenty of liquids, including cranberry juice. Cranberry juice has chemicals that fight off all urinary tract infections. Wearing cotton underwear and loose clothing that does not trap heat and moisture is also a good prevention method of kidney infections. Practice good bathroom hygiene by cleaning thoroughly after using the toilet. Women should wipe from front to back to avoid spreading fecal bacteria to the opening of the urethra. Recurring infections may mean that there is an important problem with the kidneys and such cases should be evaluated by a urologist.
What are common causes of kidney stones?
The crystals that lead to kidney stones are likely to form when your urine contains a high concentration of certain substances — especially calcium, oxalate, uric acid and rarely, cystine — or low levels of substances that help prevent crystal formation, such as citrate and magnesium. Crystals also may form if your urine becomes too concentrated or is too acidic or too alkaline.
A number of factors can cause changes in your urine, including the effects of heredity, diet, drugs, climate, lifestyle factors and certain medical conditions.
What lifestyle changes can I make to help prevent kidney stone development?
For people with a history of kidney stones, doctors usually recommend passing at least 2.5 quarts of urine a day. To do this, you'll need to drink about 14 cups of fluids every day — and even more if you live in a hot, dry climate. Although most liquids count, water is best.
In addition, if you tend to form calcium stones — a combination of calcium and oxalate — your doctor may recommend restricting foods rich in oxalates. Some examples of these foods include beets, okra, refried beans, spinach, sweet potatoes, sesame seeds, almonds and soy products. What's more, studies show that an overall diet low in salt and very low in animal protein can greatly reduce your chance of developing kidney stones.
What are symptons of acute kidney failure?
What lifestyle changes can I make to help prevent kidney failure?
In many cases it is not possible to prevent kidney failure. But you may reduce your risk by following these suggestions:
If you're at high risk of kidney damage induced by contrast dye used for certain X-rays — for example, if you have diabetes or multiple myeloma — your doctor may prescribe you a dose of acetylcysteine (Mucomyst) before the procedure. This medicine can help prevent acute kidney failure under these circumstances.
What are some common risk factors for developing kidney cancer?
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