Understanding And Overcoming Kidney Diseases And Kidney Stones

The eliminative system of the body might be compared to the sanitary department of a city. An efficient sanitary department means a clean, healthy and beautiful city; an efficient eliminating system means the same state of affairs in the body. Let but one of these functions in either the city or body fail to do its work and the entire city or body suffers.

It is when the drainage system of the body - the kidneys - get out of order that Bright's disease or chronic nephritis develops. (This disease stands as the fourth in frequency among the causes of death, being exceeded only by organic heart disease, tuberculosis and pneumonia.)

The kidneys are subject to acute diseases as well as to chronic disease. If, however, one would follow the natural methods of living and avoid all stress of the kidneys it would be highly improbable that acute disease of this order would ever develop.

Chronic Bright's disease may result from an acute attack of kidney disease or, as is usual, it develops slowly and insidiously. It is the price paid for living the usual conventional life, which transgresses most of the laws of right living, particularly when there is a definite susceptibility of the kidneys to disease.

The various causes of kidney disease are numerous. Among the prominent ones are the following: Over-consumption of protein, particularly of flesh foods; of all foods beyond the body's needs; the use of salt meats, heavy foods, vinegared and salted foods, also those that are spiced, denatured and devitalized; the drinking of tea, coffee and alcoholic beverages; constipation, which throws extra work upon the kidneys; excessive mental and physical activity; the use of drugs for various diseases and symptoms, especially the suppression of acute disease and symptoms by drugs. It does not require all of these to produce a condition of toxemia - poisoning of the blood.

Teeth far decayed, tooth-root abscesses, tonsillitis or organically infected tonsils and other local sources of infection or previous infectious disease have some bearing in the causation, but these themselves must have had a cause, and that cause was poisons generated in the body.

The eliminative organs of the body can dispose of the normal products of metabolism effectively when not overworked. But no provision has been made for the elimination of many of the destructive substances constantly taken into the body. The kidney cells in different parts of the organ have a selective power. Some eliminate water, others salts and combinations of various elements which the body no longer can use. But there has been no provision made by Nature for disposing of various medicinal metallic poisons, nor for the products of putrefaction and fermentation of the excess of food material eaten, nor for tea, coffee, coco-cola, soda water, alcohol, nicotine, condiments and various other things taken in the name of food, but which are foreign to the human organism. It is true that some of these are eliminated, or life would be impossible; but it is at the expense of the cells, and in time disease must result.

The symptoms of Bright's disease often are vague. A person may have a moderately well advanced nephritis without being aware that there is anything radically wrong. It may be an examination of the urine in the process of examination for insurance or of the eyes for the reason for failing vision that reveals a kidney involvement. Weakness and loss of appetite are early symptoms in many cases. Among other symptoms are headaches and dizziness - and upon examination the high blood pressure may be found. There is a loss of weight in many cases. A puffiness under the eyes, especially upon arising is common, also swelling of the ankles and other parts of the body. The breath becomes short and the energy is quickly expended upon exertion. The skin becomes pale and sallow, dry and rough. Albumen is present in the urine, also casts and kidney cells, revealing kidney destruction has taken place. In some cases however albumen and casts may not be present. The specific gravity of the urine usually is low.

Insomnia, mental disease and coldness of the extremities gradually develop, also nosebleed and perhaps other hemorrhage. The eyesight gradually or quite suddenly fails. If there is any accompanying involvement of the heart this organ sooner or later begins to cause trouble. Anemia develops, both hemoglobin and blood cells being reduced and the blood deteriorates.

It is only in comparatively late stages of this disease that some of these more grave symptoms will develop. If steps are taken at once to save the remaining part of the kidney one may live a reasonably long life, but unless this protection of the kidneys is given the condition must progress.

Treatment. In the treatment of Bright's disease it is absolutely necessary that the waste products which must be eliminated through the kidneys are kept down in quantity as much as possible, also kept well diluted. This is a condition in which a limited fruit diet followed by the milk diet is of particular value. The fast may continue for from five to fifteen days, depending upon weight, strength and energy. It is particularly of value if there is a dropsical condition. Thirst should be satisfied and in any case at least a quart of water taken daily, but it is not necessary that the person drink large quantities of water. Instead of the absolute fast, fruit juice may be used with great value. From six to ten oranges or the equivalent in some other fresh fruit juice, unsweetened, may be used daily. The enema should be used every day of the fast or fruit diet, from one to two quarts of tepid water being injected and expelled immediately.

Even in the medical treatment of Bright's disease the milk diet has come to hold first place in the dietetic treatment. For this disease this is the best of all diets for satisfactory results and it is the most important of all the health factors. Milk will provide every element for repair that the body requires, the various food elements are properly balanced, the wastes do not undergo putrefaction or fermentation, the diet is alkaline in its effect upon the blood, and a considerable quantity of fluid is provided to satisfactorily dilute the waste products.

Many persons are under the impression that considerable quantity of milk (or other fluid) is injurious in cases of kidney disease because of the "extra work" they consider thrown upon the kidneys, as shown by the frequent urination when on the milk diet (or on much fluid). This does not produce any work upon the kidneys, because the kidney cells do not function in the way, for instance, that those in the liver laboratory function. The kidneys are more like filters, hence the fluid passed out on the milk diet in considerable quantities saves the kidneys rather than acting as a stress to them, by keeping the acids, poisons, wastes and other toxins in such dilution that they are not irritating.

If there is a serious involvement it sometimes is beneficial for the patient to go to bed. Ordinarily this is not necessary. However, it is highly inadvisable that a person with Bright's disease undergo much physical exertion, for the reason that this adds to the irritants that must pass through the kidneys.

As to the quantity of milk on the milk diet, one should begin with small amounts and work up slowly, to less than the usually considered "full quantity." Half a glass of milk every two hours may be taken the first day; three-fourths of a glass every two hours the second day; a glass every two hours the third day; a glass every hour and a half the fourth day; a glass every hour the fifth day, and this quantity continued daily for a week or more if the weight is not being lost too rapidly. The juice of an orange or two should be taken before beginning milk in the morning, and if there is any digestive distress or any symptoms relative to the digestive tract indicating incomplete or delayed digestion of the milk it is well to use a few drops of lemon juice immediately before or with or immediately after each glass of milk, or at least with every second glass of milk during the day. If the interstitial type of nephritis is involved, then three quarts of milk perhaps will be the maximum quantity that can be taken; if the parenchymatous type the quantity of milk may be increased after the week or so to one glass every forty-five minutes. The drinking period each day is twelve hours - say from seven-thirty in the morning to seven-thirty at night.

If the bowels do not function regularly daily on this diet, an enema should be used each day.

It is important that the skin be permitted or aided to function normally. If considerable water is drunk or when the milk diet is used, the sweat bath may be employed, once or twice a week for two or three weeks at least, if there are no conditions or complications which contraindicate it. Instead of a sweat-bath a warm or moderately hot bath may be taken for five or ten minutes followed by a cool bath with moderate friction during the bath and upon drying. Massage is of benefit, and if the patient is unable to walk about to any appreciable extent both massage and passive movements by an attendant may be employed.

There must be plenty of relaxation, rest and sleep, but one should not lie around continuously if there is no condition demanding it. Gradually after improvement is noted the patient may take up gradually increasing amounts of walking and other activity, carefully watching the effect. So far as possible the exercise should be out of doors. In any case it is necessary that one have fresh air in abundance and one should practice deep breathing.

Worry and all other depressing emotions must give way to calmness and complacency.

The treatment outlined will do all that can be done to spare the kidney further destruction. New kidneys cannot be created and kidneys once diseased structurally will remain less than perfect kidneys. But the remaining portion of the kidneys can be permitted to continue functioning for many years and at the same time their possessor can enjoy life - but no high life. It may be necessary to repeat the fast and to return to the milk diet frequently. The diet between milk diet periods should contain a considerable amount of milk, an abundance of fruits and vegetables and moderate amounts of whole grain cereals, with none of the detrimental foods and near-foods already mentioned. The kidneys in the body are the only ones that will ever be there. It pays to be as good to them as possible.

Kidney stones. A condition often resulting in as extreme agony as a human being will ever suffer is kidney stones or renal calculus. These are concretions or accumulations of certain of the mineral elements present in excess in food or improperly eliminated.

Sometimes there appears in the urine gravel or very small stones. Where these continue to pass, serious immediate trouble is not likely to develop, but their appearance usually is a warning of the formation of larger stones or of the likelihood of larger stones developing. Often even with small stones or gravel there will appear in the urine mucus and pus as well as a sand-like deposit in the urine left standing. A characteristic indication of the development of gravel in the kidney is an irritation of the urinary passage, with marked irritability after urination.

Sometimes stones develop to such large size that they fill the whole pelvis of the kidney. But whether or not they develop to this great size they frequently develop too large to pass through the ureter from the kidney to the bladder. Their tendency is to steadily increase in size. It is when a stone is just of a size to enter the ureter and its passage begins downward to the bladder that renal colic develops. Sometimes it becomes impacted at the beginning or somewhere along the course of the ureter, in which case there results a considerable or extreme distension of the kidney pelvis with the urine that cannot pass from the kidney down the ureter to the bladder.

Renal colic is an excruciating pain appearing far back in the abdomen or in the small of the back and down the groin to the genital region. Associated with its development are fever, nausea and vomiting, cold sweats and difficulty of urination; unconsciousness may result from repeated agonizing spasms of pain. The pain results from the rough surfaces of the stone distending and irritating the ureter while passing down the canal of the ureter. When the stone completes its passage the severe pains disappear, but there linger mild degrees of pain or discomfort and perhaps some degree of blood in the urine. Since these stones often do not develop singly, there may be recurring attacks of the renal colic. If the stone is of considerable size the amount of blood lost through the urine may be considerable.

Treatment. It is far easier to prevent the formation and recurrence of stones than it is to relieve renal colic once it develops. Often this is one of the few legitimate reasons for using morphine or other drugs of this character, for the relief of the excruciating pain, particularly in nervous and high-strung individuals. Naturally, if the drug can be avoided, the patient will feel better after the stone has been expelled than where such drugs are used. Hot packs to the abdomen often produce relief sufficient to enable the person to endure the remaining passage of the stone. Hot packs or packs kept hot by an electrical heating pad or hot-water bottles or sand-bags, completely encircling the trunk for a width of a foot or more, may have far better results than local packs because of the more complete relaxation.

Distilled water or rain water should be taken in considerable amounts, and usually it should be decidedly hot. Whether or not such large amounts of fluid are taken during the colic, these should be taken at its termination, in order to help clear out any gravel or small stones that may linger in the pelvis of the kidney. In any case water freely taken will dilute the urine and make it less irritating to the irritated or inflamed surface of the ureter.

As important as relief may be during the colic, of greater importance are the living habits before and afterward in order to prevent the initial development or the recurrence of the stones. The very fact that stones develop shows that either there has been overeating or wrong eating, insufficient water drinking, or defective elimination, or failure properly to utilize minerals and dispose of any excess. To prevent recurrence and to build health to the highest degree, a milk diet should be followed when possible. This will cause a considerable frequency of urination of weakly concentrated urine while at the same time providing elements that will permit rebuilding and repair of the damaged kidney structure and ureter. If this diet is not followed, considerable milk should be taken in a diet consisting otherwise practically wholly of vegetables and fruit for a considerable time at least.

A small amount of whole grain cereals may be used, but there should be very little protein aside from milk and that contained in the cereals, and no starches except that in the foods mentioned. Salt should be avoided, together with other spices and condiments. No more food should be taken than is actually required to maintain the body in its various functions and to maintain weight, strength and energy. Considerable water should be taken regularly every day. If one is overweight, it is advisable to reduce to more nearly normal. If one is underweight, care should be taken that weight is gained slowly.

The skin should be aided in natural functions, as the skin and kidneys work together. The daily cold or cool bath followed by good friction is advisable where the vitality and nervous energy permit, otherwise a tepid bath with friction. Sun- and air-baths are valuable also. One should secure moderate physical exercise after recovering completely from the passage of the stones. To exercise too vigorously will tend to concentrate the urine, which is undesired. One should use constitutional exercises rather than muscle-building or strength-building exercises. There should be adequate relaxation and sleep.

There is little reason for a person developing any infection resulting from the passage of kidney stones, but unless the general toxemia is reduced infection is possible. This may ascend to the kidneys and produce serious trouble, or it may affect the bladder and result almost as seriously. If one follows the suggestions given above there will be no disastrous or harmful immediate effects following the passage of the stones, and the general health will not need to suffer.

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