Kidneys are so important that we’re born with not just one, but two of these vital organs. So, can you live with just one kidney? Absolutely.
Functioning With One Kidney: What You Need to Know
Although most people have two kidneys, you might have only one for several reasons. You may have been born with a single kidney. You may have lost one due to injury or disease. You may have donated one to someone else.
One kidney can filter your blood on its own, but it’s essential to protect it both from physical damage and physiological damage.
For the most part, that means following the basic health recommendations like anyone else, such as eating well, getting enough exercise, and keeping your body at a healthy weight. It also means staying hydrated (dehydration puts a lot of stress on your kidneys) and keeping your blood sugar within normal levels (high blood sugar can cause kidney damage).
It also means maintaining healthy blood pressure and having regular doctor check-ups to ensure the kidney is functioning properly. In addition, it may mean avoiding medications that are hard on your kidneys, such as NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen (stick to acetaminophen instead).
Most people with one kidney don’t need to follow any particular diet, but if you have kidney disease in your remaining kidney or if you received a kidney transplant, you may need to take some precautions. Your kidney may have trouble removing sodium, phosphorus, and protein from your blood, and they can build up.
In the case of transplant or kidney disease, you may need to limit these and the amount of liquid you drink. Follow whatever recommendations your healthcare team recommends.
What Are the Side Effects of Living with One Kidney?
Are there complications of having one kidney? For the most part, no.
Your single kidney should be perfectly capable of caring for your body’s needs, and most people lead normal, everyday lives with no problems. However, you are at slightly higher risk for high blood pressure if you have only one kidney if it loses any of its function. You’re also at a higher risk for fluid retention and protein in your urine (proteinuria).
Precautions to Take When Living with One Kidney
When living with one kidney, the primary precaution is to protect it from injury. When you have two kidneys, the second can compensate for any loss of function in the first, or even for complete loss of a kidney.
There’s no back-up when you only have a single kidney, so you need to be extra careful. That means avoiding contact sports like football, martial arts, soccer, or boxing — any sports with a high risk of injury to your trunk. In some cases, your physician may say contact sports are okay with the proper protective gear.
If you have one kidney, you should visit your doctor at least once per year to ensure it’s in good shape. And for all your home healthcare supply needs, visit Simply Medical today.