Smoking and Chronic Kidney Disease

Using tobacco products has been shown to cause a whole range of health complications. For those who have chronic kidney disease, or those who are at risk of chronic renal failure, the risk of developing a chronic disease is intensified.

This is both because smoking can lead to health conditions which are linked to kidney disease, as well as smoking causing kidney issues directly.

Smoking, High Blood Pressure, and Kidney Failure

Severe or poorly controlled high blood pressure is a leading cause of kidney disease and renal failure. Over time, the arteries and vessels surrounding the kidneys begin to fail, leading to damage to the organs themselves. Since smoking is a major cause of high blood pressure, it can indirectly lead to kidney disease if hypertension isn’t controlled. In some cases, prescription medications may help manage high blood pressure when combined with a diet and exercise program.

Smoking and Kidney Medications

Those who already have kidney disease may be required to take ongoing prescription medications to improve or preserve kidney function. Chemicals found in tobacco products may hinder these medications from working properly, according to the National Kidney Foundation. If you are currently taking medication to control renal disease and you also smoke, you should have your progress checked regularly to ensure your medications are remaining effective.

Smoking and Progressed Kidney Disease

The use of tobacco products has been shown to worsen kidney disease. Smokers often have lowered immune function, meaning kidney infections and cancers may develop more rapidly and take longer to heal. It also causes further damage to the organs in those who already have renal disease.

Smoking and Healthy Kidneys

Even those with healthy kidneys may develop kidney disease while smoking. According to Davita, studies have shown that smokers who do not have kidney disease are still more likely to die from renal failure than those who do not smoke. Smoking reduces blood flow to the kidneys, constricts arteries and blood vessels, and causes extensive damage over time.

Maintain Healthy Habits

Smokers with chronic kidney disease may be able to slow progression of their illnesses in a variety of ways.

Take medications on time: Don’t skip doses or go off your medication without speaking first with your doctor.

See your doctor: Your doctor can tell you if your blood pressure is under control and if your kidney function has declined further, or improved. Keeping a close watch on your progress is key to tackling new problems as they arise.

Avoid alcohol: While drinking alcoholic beverages affects the liver more so than the kidneys, it can still be damaging. Alcohol can also raise blood pressure, leading to increased risk of kidney damage.

Restrict caffeine intake: Caffeine intake may raise blood pressure for some individuals who are sensitive to it.

Quitting for a Healthier Outcome

Whether you currently have kidneydisease, or are at risk of developing it, it’s important that you quit smoking. Doing away with tobacco products might seem like a difficult task, but with today’s cessation aids, most anyone can quit successfully. Be sure to discuss patches, gum or prescription medications with your doctor before use, to ensure the aid you choose is compatible with your condition.


Published: August 7, 2015


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