Q1: Does kidney disease run in families?

The leading causes of kidney failure are diabetes and high blood pressure. These often run in families.

The only common cause of kidney failure that is directly passed down from your parents is PKD (Polycystic Kidney Disease). PKD is a disease in which cysts (pouches of fluid) form in the kidneys. More cysts grow and they get bigger as time goes on, eventually leading to kidney failure

Q2: How can I prevent kidney stones?

There are a few things you can do to help prevent kidney stones from forming.  First, you will need to know which type of kidney stone you have.  There are four main types of kidney stones, and how you prevent them depends on which type you have.

Calcium Stones:  These are the most common.  Talk to your doctor before reducing the calcium in your diet.  This could lead to weaker bones and muscles.  Instead, ask your doctor about reducing sodium in your diet.
Struvite Stones:  These are made of magnesium and ammonia and are common after urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Uric Acid Stones:  These are often caused by too much acid from red meat.  Talk to your doctor about cutting back the amount of red meat in your diet.
Cystine Stones:  These are rare, and are often due to an inherited disease.
Drinking plenty of water to flush out buildup in the kidneys will also help prevent any type of kidney stone from forming.  Medicines may also be an option for calcium and uric acid stones.

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Q3: Is alcohol or soda bad for the kidneys?

Not always.  In moderation, alcohol and soda are not bad for the kidneys.  But, both affect the kidneys indirectly.  Alcoholic beverages and sodas are high in calories, and too much of them are not good for anyone with diabetes.  Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure.

A new study linked drinking two or more cola drinks (either diet or regular) each day with an increased risk for chronic kidney disease.  Other kinds of sodas did not increase the risk for chronic kidney disease.
Also, while alcohol affects the liver more directly, it can raise blood pressure.  High blood pressure may damage the kidneys.  High blood pressure is the number two cause of kidney failure.

Alcohol also can be dangerous to drink when you are on some kinds of medicine.  Make sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist about how alcohol can affect your medicines.

Q4: Is cranberry juice good for the kidneys?

Cranberry juice may help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). The juice makes it hard for germs (bacteria) to grow in your bladder.

Q5: How much water should I drink?

You may not need to drink eight glasses of water every day to stay healthy, as once thought.  But, water is still a better choice than drinks that have caffeine like soda, coffee or tea.  These drinks can actually make you more thirsty.  Avoiding extra sugary juices and fruit punches is also a good idea, especially if you have diabetes.  Drinking plenty of water may also help prevent kidney stones.

If you are on dialysis, you will need to limit how much you drink.  Talk to your doctor about how much fluid you can drink.

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Q6: Why is smoking bad for the kidneys?

Smoking increases a person’s risk for kidney cancer, but it also hurts your heart and blood vessels.  This damage can cause high blood pressure.  High blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure.  If a person already has kidney disease, smoking can make it worse more quickly.

Q7: What are the treatments for uterine cancer?

A cure for kidney failure is still many years away.  But, the treatments for kidney failure continue to get better.  American Kidney Fund research seeks to improve the lives of patients fighting kidney disease

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