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March is National Kidney Month, which makes it a great time to review how your kidneys work and how they are affected by COPD. When you think about chronic lung diseases like COPD, the kidneys are probably not the first organs that come to mind. However, many people with COPD experience kidney problems. So, how are COPD and kidneys related? Take a look.
Because it causes difficulty with breathing and lung function, one of the hallmarks of COPD is low blood-oxygen, or hypoxia. Oxygen deprivation in the blood means low oxygen delivery to the organs and tissues. When your organs and tissues do not receive the oxygen they need, they become hypoxemic, which comes with a variety of problems—particularly when it comes to your kidneys.
Your kidneys are one of the essential filters in your body, extracting waste like toxins, excess salt and a nitrogen-based waste called urea (which is created during cell metabolism) from your blood. Your kidneys are also responsible for creating urine, which helps the extracted waste exit the body, as well as adjusting the amount of water retained in the body depending on your fluid intake. In addition, kidneys also provide essential regulation of your blood pressure and of the balance of acids in your body based on what you eat. Finally, your kidneys regulate red blood cell production based on the amount of oxygen they receive. When your kidneys are not receiving the right amount of oxygen, they trigger a hormone that stimulates your bone marrow to produce more red blood cells, which help to carry oxygen. However, if they become oxygen starved, renal failure can occur.
When your kidneys do not get the oxygen they need, they cannot function properly, which causes renal failure. This can cause a variety of problems, which can include:
Patients with COPD who are still not getting the oxygen they need could experience reduced kidney function. People with COPD as well as other conditions that impair kidney function, like diabetes, may be more prone to kidney problems. If you have COPD, how can you preserve healthy kidney function?
Unfortunately, COPD is associated with an increased risk of kidney problems because of the low blood oxygen associated with lung disease. Moreover, findings suggest that there is an increased risk of mortality with COPD patients who have chronic kidney disease. Research found that patients with chronic kidney disease in stages 3 or 4 had a 41% increased risk of mortality from all causes, plus four times the increased risk of death from respiratory-related causes. The findings indicate that the risk is more distinct in women and younger patients.
These are frightening statistics, and if you have COPD, you may want to know what you can do to reduce your risk of developing kidney problems and chronic kidney disease.
Improving your oxygen levels can help reduce the likelihood of hypoxia, which will also reduce the likelihood that your organs will be affected by your COPD. You can improve your oxygen levels by participating in pulmonary rehabilitation, practicing breathing and coughing techniques that help you breathe better, taking certain medications that can open your airways and using supplemental oxygen therapy.
As it turns out, some of the treatments that are excellent for COPD—like moderate exercise, oxygen therapy and a healthy diet—are also great for the health of your kidneys! In honor of National Kidney Month, commit to treating both your COPD and kidneys by taking steps to keep your body healthy and to improve your oxygen saturation. Ask your doctor to help you decide which treatments are best for your COPD and to assess your risk of kidney problems before you experience symptoms.
Oxygen therapy is one of the main treatments for COPD, but did you know that it could also help minimize kidney problems in patients with COPD? Studies show that oxygen therapy improves kidney function in patients with COPD, so you could be treating two problems with one solution.
Oxygen therapy helps improve your oxygen intake and absorption by providing a higher concentration of pure oxygen to you via mask or nasal cannula. The air we breathe contains approximately 21% oxygen, so a higher concentration can be extremely beneficial for people whose lungs do not work as effectively. Additionally, if your lungs have trouble absorbing the oxygen, as is often the case with COPD, providing a higher concentration via supplemental oxygen makes it more likely that your organs, like your kidneys, will receive the amount of oxygen they need to function properly. Ask your doctor if oxygen therapy could help treat your COPD and kidneys.
Sometimes when patients are prescribed oxygen, they worry that they will be unable to continue living a rich and active life. While some oxygen delivery systems do make your daily activities more difficult, portable oxygen concentrators actually allow you to live your life as normally as possible, while getting oxygen treatments on the go.
Inogen, an innovator of portable oxygen concentrators, believes that oxygen therapy should help improve your quality of life, not hinder it. As a result, we created portable oxygen concentrators that are small and lightweight, allowing you to get the oxygen you need anytime, anywhere. Inogen’s compact portable oxygen concentrators can be used at home or on the go, offering endless supplemental oxygen as long as you have a charged battery or an AC or DC power source. Whatever you want to do—whether it is traveling, enjoying time with friends or spending quality time at home with your family—Inogen’s portable concentrators allow you to receive the oxygen treatments you need at the same time. They are not only portable, but also quiet and easy to use, so they will not get in the way of your active life. Inogen’s products are made to improve your freedom, mobility and independence, so you get the supplemental oxygen you need for your COPD, without being tethered to a tank. Find out more about how Inogen portable oxygen concentrators can benefit your COPD, while you continue doing the things you love. Call Inogen today for more information, and talk to your doctor about whether portable oxygen concentrators are right for you.