Kidney Disease and Smoking: How are they Related?

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in side effects

Dr. Howell

We have been reading a lot of articles, blogs and news how dangerous smoking is. It can damage the heart, lungs and nearly all major organs yet; people with kidney disease who smoke may not have considered that smoking can be the source of additional problems to their kidneys. When compared to non-smokers, studies revealed that smoking more than one pack each day increased the possibility of chronic kidney failure by 50%.

The kidneys have two main functions: endocrine and excretory. Endocrine functions take in production of enzymes that helps control the blood pressure, making a hormone that triggers bone marrow to activate vitamin D, and producing red blood cells to keep your bones strong and healthy. While excretory takes out all the excess water and waste products in the form of urine and controlling balance acidity and mineral levels in the body. Diabetes and high blood pressure are two of the main diseases that cause kidney failure. Smoking can greatly contribute in making these diseases worse.

Kidney disease and high blood pressure are related. Kidney damage can cause high blood pressure and high blood pressure can also cause kidney damage. If you are a person with high blood pressure, you must avoid smoking because it can increase blood pressure.  High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of kidney disease. The best way to identify high blood pressure is to see your doctor often, because some patients may not detect any symptoms. To help avoid high blood pressure, a person should limit eating food with too much sodium, should regularly exercise to have a controlled body weight, should avoid or limit alcohol intake, should take the medication prescribed by the doctor and avoid smoking.


Smoking can increase the risk of acquiring the final stage of kidney disease also known as End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). Also, smoking destructs kidney function as it affects the blood flow inside the body. It narrows the blood vessels and hardens the arteries which can prevent blood flow to the kidneys and may cause them to function irregularly or less efficient. Kidneys that are damaged cannot eliminate waste or excess water efficiently from the blood. Fluid and waste then accumulate in the body, which can damage the kidneys.

Smokers with diabetes can also increase the risk of having kidney disease. If a person has kidney and diabetes disease, studies reveal that smoking can lessen kidney function and may result in ESRD. Smokers with diabetes tend to acquire kidney problems rapidly and sooner, lose kidney function than those people with diabetes who don’t smoke. Kidney failure because of diabetes happens gradually. Smokers with diabetes may not identify symptoms until their kidneys can’t function anymore, and kidney transplantation or dialysis is badly needed.

People with kidney disease should quit smoking before it’s too late. It is clearly stated that even if a person is in a good condition, smoking is dangerous. The possibilities of acquiring complications increase if people with kidney disease choose to smoke. So it is best to quit smoking with or without a kidney disease. There are many techniques and methods found in the internet accessible to smokers who are willing to quit.




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