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Stress and Kidney Health: Strategies To Manage Stress This World Kidney Day

Stress is part of life. However, too much stress can lead to poor health, increase our blood pressure, and even damage the kidneys. The prevalence of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) has increased in the last two decades. The rising rate of CKD is due to comorbidities such as Diabetes, Hypertension, and obesity. By understanding how stress affects our health and finding ways to manage it, we can keep our kidneys healthier and live a healthier life.

In this blog, we will look at the impact of stress on kidney function and ways to manage it.

What Is Stress?

Stress is defined as something that affects or disturbs your equilibrium or balance. Stress can be physical (infection, injury, sickness) or mental (worry, disagreement, conflict, risks to personal safety or well-being). Living with a chronic condition, such as kidney disease, or discovering that you have one for the first time, can be extremely stressful.

We all face psychological stress every day. It can be caused by positive life events, like marriage and children, or by more emotionally difficult events, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, and personal or financial issues.

Stress is normal, and your physical response to it, such as faster breathing and heart rate, an increase in blood pressure, dilated pupils, and tense muscles, is a natural and usual process. The level of fat and sugar in your blood can also increase. The body's reaction to stress is frequently called "fight or flight." Although it is a natural mechanism that helps us survive immediate risks, excessive or chronic stress can eventually harm our health.

How Stress Affects Kidney Health?

When your body is subjected to high amounts of stress for a long time, these physical reactions, if unchecked, might impact your health. Increased blood pressure, a faster heart rate, and higher fat and sugar levels in your blood can all cause several health issues, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

Stress and uncontrolled reactions to stress can also cause kidney damage. Your kidneys, as the body's blood filtration systems, are more susceptible to problems with blood circulation and blood vessels. High blood pressure and blood sugar levels could cause additional strain or burden on the kidneys. Stress hormones like adrenaline can worsen hypertension. People with high blood pressure and diabetes are prone to developing renal disease. People with kidney illness have an increased chance of developing heart and blood vessel disease. If you already have a heart, blood vessel, or kidney illness, your body's reactions to stress can become increasingly damaging. As a result, whether your objective is to prevent heart and/or kidney disease or improve your health while living with heart and/or kidney disease, stress management is a crucial part of your overall well-being.

Effect Of Stress On Kidney Function

The effects of chronic stress on kidney function include:

Signs Of Stress-Related Kidney Diseases

The goal is to notice signs of stress-related kidney problems at an early stage so that you can take the right action. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Change in urination
  • Fatigue
  • Palpitations
  • Swelling (hands, legs, or feet)
  • Breathlessness
  • Back Pain 
  • Lowered appetite
  • Puffiness around the eyes
  • Abnormal levels of phosphorus, calcium, or vitamin D
  • High blood pressure

What Can I Do For Stress Management?

It is very difficult to entirely get rid of stress or to never have physical reactions to it. However, there are certain activities you can do to help manage stress and limit your body's response to it. Here are some simple ways to manage stress:

  • Get enough sleep: When worries are too much, it is easy to lose sleep. Remember that sleep is your best defense for emotional and physical difficulties caused by stress.
  • Follow a healthy diet: Your healthcare provider has suggested some kidney-friendly diet recommendations. Consult your nutritionist if you feel like you have low energy. Limit your intake of sodium and caffeine. Sugar and fat intake should be limited (particularly if you have diabetes). It's remarkable how much of an impact the appropriate nutrients may have on your energy level.
  • Get enough exercise: Exercise reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety by releasing endorphins. It has also been proven to improve confidence, making it even more fulfilling.
  • Remove yourself from stressful situations: Know when to take a step back—emotionally or physically—and review what's going on and how you're reacting to it. It may be a five-minute break at work or a walk around a neighborhood.
  • Create calming rituals: A simple routine, such as meditation, breathing exercises, or even preparing a pot of tea, can be relaxing. You can also choose relaxation practices (such as yoga and meditation) to relieve stress.
  • Build a healthy routine: Plan a timetable that includes regular dialysis, medication, and food preparation times. Knowing what to do and what helps ease the burden of managing your condition. 
  • Figure out what’s most important to you: Since you're modifying your routine, now is an opportunity to take a step back and check that you're spending your time on things that matter to you. Write down your problems and consider the best solutions for each one. A list can help you assess and prioritize which concerns need to be handled.Establish realistic goals and expectations. Keep a positive attitude and mindset.

Conclusion 

Keep in mind that stress management is not just about feeling calmer and relaxed; it is an effective way to keep your kidneys healthy. By following these simple techniques in your daily routine, you can give your kidneys the care they need and make sure they remain healthy in the years to come. Additionally, if you have any queries related to kidney health, schedule an appointment with your health checkup and get yourself tested as early as possible, as early detection and treatment can make a big difference.

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