We all know smoking causes lung problems, but how many know it can also cause kidney disease? In fact smoking is a “leading risk factor that can lead to end stage renal disease,” or kidney failure. While doctors have known that a smoker with diabetes has an increased risk of developing kidney disease, smokers without diabetes have also exhibited kidney changes. The problem is that most people, whether they are smokers or not, may not know they are having kidney problems. Today on World Kidney Day, let’s look at how smoking can affect your kidneys.
First, smoking can increase blood pressure which can cause artery damage. Your kidneys need these arteries and the volumes of blood that flow through them to filter toxins out of the body. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause these arteries to “narrow, weaken or harden,” causing blood flow to slow or decrease.
Inside the kidneys are the smallest of the blood vessels, the capillaries. These capillaries feed nutrients to the nephrons that filter your blood. If the arteries are damaged, the kidneys “lose their ability to filter blood and regulate the fluid, hormones, acids and salts in the body.” If your kidneys are healthy, they are able to produce a hormone to regulate blood pressure, but kidney damage means this hormone isn’t being produced. This higher blood pressure can cause further kidney damage.
Smoking causes so many problems in the body. But a study found that “former smokers had fewer kidney abnormalities that current smokers,” so it’s sort of like getting two good reasons to quit smoking. (A little kidney humor).
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