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Five Surprising Ways You Could Be Damaging Your Kidneys

Your kidneys work 24/7 to keep the body healthy by filtering out toxins and extra fluid and regulating blood pressure. Damage to these vital organs could be irreversible, yet so many are unaware of what might be harmful. During March, National Kidney Month, the National Kidney Foundation offers information on five surprising ways you might be damaging your kidneys:

  • Long term use of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (over-the-counter painkillers, known as NSAIDs): As many as 3% to 5% of new cases of chronic kidney failure each year may be caused by the overuse of painkillers. Long-term use, especially at high doses, has a harmful effect on kidney tissue and structures. These drugs can also reduce the blood flow to the kidney.
  • Cigarette Smoking: People who smoke are more likely to have protein in the urine, which is a sign of kidney damage. Smokers are also more likely to need dialysis or kidney transplants.
  • Exposure to contrast dye commonly used in x-ray procedures such as angiograms and CT scans: Sometimes the dye can cause serious problems in the kidneys. This is known as "contrast induced nephropathy (CIN)." CIN is a rare complication and may be preventable but it's important to discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor before the procedure.
  • Consuming large quantities of salt: Diets high in sodium increase blood pressure levels. High blood pressure damages the kidneys over time, and is a leading cause of kidney failure.
  • Drinking large amounts of cola-based soft drink beverages: Studies have shown that drinking two or more colas a day-diet or regular-is linked to a higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
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© 2020 National Kidney Foundation. All rights reserved. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.

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