Kidney problems are common in seniors.
Our kidneys filter waste from our blood and remove it from our bodies.
They also help regulate blood pressure and produce hormones stimulating red blood cell production.
In this blog, we'll discuss common kidney problems in seniors, their associated risk factors, and how to prevent and manage kidney problems.
As we age, our kidneys undergo structural and functional changes that make them less efficient at filtering waste and excess fluids from the blood.
This reduced efficiency can lead to various age-related kidney problems, such as chronic or end-stage renal disease.
Here are some of the more common kidney problems in seniors.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is when the kidneys gradually lose function over time.
This can cause waste to build up in the body, leading to serious health problems.
Symptoms of CKD include fatigue, swelling in the legs and ankles, back pain, and changes in urination.
CKD can be caused by diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health conditions.
Treatment for CKD includes managing the underlying causes, medications to control symptoms, and in severe cases, dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Kidney stones are hard kidney deposits and can cause severe pain when passing through the urinary tract.
Symptoms of kidney stones include pain in the back, side, and groin, nausea and vomiting, and changes in urination.
Kidney stones can be caused by dehydration, a diet high in salt and protein, and other factors.
Treatment for kidney stones includes pain management, drinking plenty of water, and in severe cases, surgery.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection that affects any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys, bladder, and urethra.
Symptoms of a UTI include pain or burning during urination, strong-smelling urine, and frequent urination.
Various factors, including dehydration, poor hygiene, and sexual activity can cause UTIs.
Treatment for UTIs includes antibiotics and drinking plenty of water.
While anyone can develop kidney problems, certain risk factors make seniors more susceptible.
The following are some factors contributing to kidney diseases in seniors.
As we age, our kidneys undergo natural changes that can lead to a decline in their function.
This is why older adults are more likely to develop kidney problems such as chronic kidney disease (CKD) or end-stage renal disease (ESRD).
However, it's important to note that not everyone experiences age-related kidney problems, and a healthy lifestyle can help maintain kidney health as we age.
Men are more likely than women to develop kidney problems.
This may be due to anatomical differences between men and women or hormonal differences that affect the kidneys.
Regardless of gender, anyone can take steps to protect their kidney health.
Diabetes can damage the kidneys over time, leading to diabetic kidney disease. High blood sugar levels can cause the small blood vessels in the kidneys to become damaged and leaky. This can eventually lead to kidney failure.
People with diabetes must carefully manage their blood sugar levels to reduce their risk of kidney problems.
High blood pressure can also damage the kidneys over time, leading to CKD or ESRD.
When blood pressure is high, it puts extra strain on the small blood vessels in the kidneys.
It causes the kidney to become damaged and less efficient at filtering waste from the blood.
Managing blood pressure through lifestyle changes and medication is essential for protecting kidney health.
If someone has a family history of kidney problems, they may be at increased risk of developing kidney problems.
Certain kidney conditions, such as polycystic kidney disease, can be inherited.
People with a family history of kidney problems must discuss appropriate screening tests with their healthcare provider.
Certain medications can damage the kidneys if taken for a long time or in high doses.
Examples include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen, as well as some antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs.
It's important to follow dosing instructions carefully and discuss any concerns with a healthcare provider.
Dehydration can be especially harmful to the kidneys, especially in older adults.
When the body is dehydrated, it doesn't have enough fluid to properly flush waste and toxins from the kidneys, which can lead to kidney damage over time. People must drink enough water and other fluids each day to help protect their kidney health.
Seniors must know the various risk factors that can lead to kidney problems.
By understanding these factors, seniors can take proactive steps to protect their kidney health and prevent potential complications.
Seniors can reduce risk by making healthy lifestyle choices, managing medications safely, and staying up-to-date with regular checkups and testing.
With proper awareness and care, seniors can maintain optimal kidney health and enjoy a high quality of life as they age.
In the next blog, we will discuss practical ways to reduce seniors' risk of kidney problems.
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe at home and have a great day!