Weight Loss & the Kidney

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The kidneys are two organs located on either side of your spine behind your abdomen. Besides creating urine to remove unneeded waste and water from your body, they produce several hormones, including erythropoietin and renin, and help regulate your blood pressure and bodily fluids. Although people usually have two kidneys, one kidney can function alone adequately if the other one stops working.

Kidney Problems

One or both kidneys can stop performing correctly for various reasons, including an injury or the effects of a medical condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Common diseases that afflict the kidneys include kidney cancer, which is also known as renal cancer, which refers to the Latin word for kidneys, renes. Chronic kidney disease, which is also called chronic kidney failure or chronic renal failure, is also common. When the kidneys have a problem or are at risk of developing a problem, weight loss can be either a symptom of the condition or a form of intervention or treatment to help alleviate or manage the problem.

Weight Loss as a Symptom

Losing weight is a typical result and sign of kidney disease. For example, chronic kidney failure, a progressive condition that gradually becomes worse, can cause patients to repeatedly experience nausea and vomiting due to accumulated waste in their body, explains the Merck Manuals. When such symptoms recur, the eventual effects can include loss of appetite leading to inadequate nutrition and weight loss. Poor appetite and rapid weight loss for unknown reasons are common symptoms of kidney cancer, too.

Weight Loss as a Treatment

Numerous risk factors can increase the likelihood of a person developing certain diseases that affect the kidneys, such as kidney cancer and kidney failure. For instance, in the case of cancer, significant contributing factors include being a man, eating a diet high in fat, smoking and weighing too much, especially to the point of obesity. Excessive weight can also increase the severity of a kidney condition once you develop it. If an individual with a kidney problem weighs too much, a common approach to improving the person's health involves eating more nutritiously and exercising more to lose extra pounds and maintain a normal weight.

Obesity Considerations

Obesity does not cause kidney conditions directly. However, if you have kidney problems, obesity may make it easier for other health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure to damage your kidneys more extensively, notes The University of Cincinnati website NetWellness. Losing weight in such circumstances may improve your health, because achieving a normal weight often helps people to manage their diabetes and lower their blood pressure, for example.

Treatment Warning

Obesity can make treating kidney problems not only more difficult, but sometimes impossible. Morbidly obese individuals with severe kidney disease often cannot receive a crucial kidney transplant until they lose weight, because the excess weight increases their risk of developing complications after surgery, states the University of California San Francisco Medical Center health website.