Most people living with a single kidney can lead a normal life, just like other healthy people. However, there are some points to be aware of. You can find more information below.
About living with one kidney
Living with one kidney is actually not a scary thing, and although most people have two, you only need one functioning kidney to live a healthy life. If you only have one kidney, it’s important to protect it and keep it working well, because if it fails, the second does not exist.
In such a situation, maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, and getting regular check-ups from your doctor will help keep your kidney healthy.
What is it like to live with one kidney?
Your kidneys filter waste and extra fluid from your blood so it is excreted from your body as urine. A kidney can filter enough blood to keep your body functioning normally. That’s why you can survive and be healthy with just one kidney.
If you only have one kidney, the recommendations for healthy living are basically the same for people with two kidneys, and they are:
- eating healthy
- do regular exercise
- maintaining a healthy weight
- drinking lots of water
- Maintaining normal blood pressure and blood sugar ( well managing high blood pressure or diabetes if any )
- Seeing your doctor regularly for checkups
Also, if you only have one kidney, you have to be very careful to keep it working well. In particular, you should pay attention to the following:
- protect from injury
- avoiding drugs that can be harmful, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Does living with one kidney cause problems?
Your kidneys play an important role in maintaining fluid balance in your body, keeping protein in your blood, and controlling your blood pressure. If your kidneys stop working regardless of how many, you may experience:
- Developing high blood pressure (hypertension)
- losing protein in your urine (proteinuria)
- fluid retention
Most people with a single kidney lead a normal life without developing long-term or short-term problems. However, if you have one kidney instead of two, you have a slightly higher risk of developing mild high blood pressure, fluid retention, and proteinuria.
This is because a second kidney can compensate for the function of a damaged kidney. Because there is no redundancy, loss of function of a single kidney can lead to proteinuria, fluid retention, or high blood pressure from your two kidneys earlier.
Living with one kidney and avoiding injuries
If you only have one kidney, it can be a big deal to get injured because you don’t have another one to compensate. If the injury is severe and your kidney stops working completely, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive.
To avoid this, it is very important to protect your single kidney from injury. You should avoid the following contact sports that can cause kidney damage:
- Martial arts
If you play contact sports, wearing padding and other protective gear makes kidney damage less likely, but does not completely eliminate the risk.
Also, other high-risk activities should be avoided or extra precautions should be taken. These activities include:
- rock climbing
- Water sports such as jet skis or water skiing
- motorcycle riding
- motorsports such as racing
- horse riding
- tying a rope to your feet and jumping
In the long term, the loss of function in one kidney is usually very mild and goes unnoticed unless your kidney is injured.
How should people living with one kidney be fed?
Living with a single kidney often does not require a special diet; Just like people with two kidneys, it is enough to eat a healthy and balanced diet. However, people with a single kidney may need to limit the amount of fluid they drink. The doctor will give the necessary guidance in this regard.
If you only have one kidney because you had a transplant, or if you have kidney disease, you may need to limit the amount of sodium, phosphorus, and protein in your diet. This is because your kidney can’t remove them very well from your blood, so they accumulate.
Whether you have one or both kidneys, you should strive to adopt a healthy lifestyle along with a healthy diet. For example, you can do the following:
- not smoking
- do regular exercise
- maintaining a healthy weight
- not be thirsty
- limiting alcohol
- reduce stress
Living with one kidney and drinking alcohol
Many of your body’s organs are affected by alcohol, including your kidneys. Drinking in moderation (one drink a day for women and two a day for men) usually doesn’t harm your kidneys.
Alcohol increases the amount of urine you produce, but it also decreases your kidney’s ability to filter blood. This upsets the fluid and electrolyte balance in your body and you become dehydrated. If your body does not have enough fluid, the cells in your organs, including your kidneys, cannot function properly. It can eventually cause permanent damage.
The liver is important for maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance. Liver damage from excessive alcohol interferes with this balance, making it more difficult for your kidneys to work properly.
In addition, smokers are at an even higher risk of kidney damage.
Living with one kidney and dialysis
Dialysis performs the function of your kidney by filtering your blood, removing wastes and extra fluid. This procedure is only done when you have temporarily or permanently lost most or all of your kidney function.
According to the National Kidney Foundation , dialysis should only be started if your kidneys have lost 85 to 90 percent of their function. Because once you have one kidney you usually have nearly normal kidney function, you will not need dialysis unless your kidney is failing.
How often should people living with a single kidney see a doctor?
You should see your doctor at least once a year to live with a single kidney and evaluate its function. If any problems arise, it should be checked more often. Two tests are used to evaluate your kidney function, these are:
- Glomerular filtration rate: Shows how well the kidneys are filtering blood. It is calculated using the creatinine level in your blood.
- The amount of protein in your urine: It is measured to determine if the filters in your kidney are damaged. High protein levels in your urine are a sign of kidney dysfunction.
Your blood pressure should also be measured. High blood pressure can be a sign of kidney dysfunction. It can also damage the blood vessels in your kidney, which can make kidney dysfunction worse. Lifestyle changes and medication can lower your blood pressure and prevent further kidney damage.
Living with one kidney and kidney transplant
According to the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Health , about 200,000 people in the United States have only one kidney transplanted.
A kidney transplant is only done when both kidneys are not working. The risks of the procedure and the side effects of the medications you’ll need for the rest of your life outweigh the small increase in function you get from a second kidney. Therefore, a second kidney is often not needed.
If your only kidney is injured, sick or stops working, then you may be eligible for a transplant. You only get one kidney in a transplant. The transplanted kidney usually adapts and works better over time. As time passes, the transplanted kidney will work as before.
As a result
Most people with a single kidney continue to live normal and healthy lives. Whether you have one or both kidneys, a healthy lifestyle is important to keeping your kidneys working well.
To live in a healthy way with one kidney; you can eat regular and healthy meals, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, limit alcohol, quit smoking, and see your doctor regularly.
Avoiding contact sports and other activities that can cause injury is one of the most important things you can do to live with a single kidney and keep it functioning well.