From Itchy Skin to Heart Disease: How Kidney Problem Triggers a Chain Reaction of Health Woes

May 28, 2024

The kidneys, small yet powerful bean-shaped organs, are only about 5 inches long but play a crucial role in maintaining our overall health. Situated just below the rib cage, these organs are complex filtration systems that process approximately 200 liters of blood daily. Their tasks include removing impurities, regulating blood pressure, maintaining electrolyte balance, and producing hormones essential for red blood cell production and bone health. Despite their modest size, the kidneys perform these vital functions tirelessly, ensuring our well-being.

The Domino Effect of Kidney Problems

Given the extensive workload of the kidneys, any issues with these organs can trigger a cascade of health problems. Chronic kidney disease (CKD), for example, is a condition that affects one Filipino every hour, leading to complications in various parts of the body, including the skin and heart. According to Dr. Eladio Miguel M. Peñaranda Jr., Chief of the Section of Nephrology at Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed), CKD can cause symptoms ranging from itchy skin to gout due to the accumulation of toxins in the body.

“People with kidney problems often experience itchy skin and gout because excess waste builds up in the body,” explains Dr. Peñaranda. “The accumulation of uric acid in the blood can form urate crystals, which settle in the joints and cause sudden attacks of pain and swelling.”

Impact on Bone and Heart Health

The kidneys also play a significant role in regulating minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, and potassium. Dysfunction in these organs can lead to serious health issues. Dr. Peñaranda highlights that healthy kidneys eliminate excess phosphorus, but when they fail, high levels of this mineral can reduce calcium in bones, increasing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis. Additionally, potassium imbalances can disrupt the electrical signals in the myocardium (the heart muscle), potentially causing irregular heartbeats.

Kidney damage is closely linked to heart disease, the leading cause of death among Filipinos. Dr. Peñaranda points out that kidney disease strains the heart, forcing it to work harder to supply blood to the kidneys, which can exacerbate cardiovascular problems.

Proactive Kidney Care

MakatiMed emphasizes the importance of incorporating kidney health into a proactive wellness approach. Often, kidney disease goes unnoticed until it reaches an advanced stage, where treatment focuses on symptom management and slowing disease progression.

“To maintain healthy kidneys, it’s vital to eat more vegetables and fruits, stay hydrated, exercise regularly, limit cholesterol and salt intake, reduce alcohol consumption, quit smoking, and manage blood sugar and blood pressure,” advises Dr. Peñaranda. “If you suspect kidney issues, consult a doctor immediately and get tested through blood and urine tests. These preventive measures can protect your kidneys and help you avoid a host of health issues that can impede your quality of life.”

By taking these steps, you can ensure your kidneys continue to perform their essential functions, safeguarding your overall health and well-being.

For more information, contact MakatiMed On-Call at +632.88888 999, email, or visit Follow @IamMakatiMed on Facebook and Twitter.