Now more than ever, it’s important to raise awareness of kidney disease and associated health problems. Every human body has two kidneys and they’re always working to filter your blood, removing waste, acids, minerals, and excess water. This waste is moved from the kidney to the bladder and then passes out of the body. These bean-shaped organs situated on each side of the lower back also help produce hormones that control blood pressure, make red blood cells, and keep your bones strong and healthy.
Individuals who have diabetes, high blood pressure, polycystic kidney disease, glomerulonephritis, acute kidney injury, kidney cancer, or a family history of kidney disease, are over 60 years old, or part of a race or ethnicity with a higher risk for diabetes or high blood pressure are all at greater risk for kidney disease. Are you at risk? There are various tests that your doctor can run annually in order to make sure your kidneys are functioning correctly. Because chronic kidney disease (CKD) is often overlooked until damage has already occurred, it’s important to be tested for early diagnosis. You can ask your doctor about these tests for kidney health: eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate) which tests how well your kidneys are cleaning blood; urine test which tests for blood or protein in the urine; and blood pressure which tests for hypertension that can cause kidney disease.
Preventing Kidney Disease
Your kidneys are important for your overall health, but largely overlooked. Many people who live with chronic kidney disease do so undiagnosed and untreated. If you are at risk for kidney disease, or if you are a person who cares about health and quality of life there are things you can do to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease as well as other chronic or debilitating conditions.
- Live an Active Life
Maintaining an ideal body weight and lowering blood pressure are just a few benefits of an active lifestyle. Regular exercise also reduces cancer risk, improves heart health, regulates blood sugar and insulin levels, and improves sexual and sleep health.
- Eat a Healthy Diet
A healthy, balanced diet will help maintain an ideal body weight ad prevent many conditions associated with Chronic Kidney Disease. Use MyPlate.gov to help make a meal plan that works for you and help your kidneys to not work as hard by decreasing sodium in the diet.
- Check Your Blood Sugar
Managing your blood sugar and insulin levels will help protect your kidneys. About half the people who have diabetes actually don’t know they have it. About half of the people with diabetes will develop kidney damage—unless the diabetes is managed properly. In addition to testing your sugar daily you should have your doctor complete regular blood and urine tests.
- Check Your Blood Pressure
Whether or not you take blood pressure medications, you should check your pressures regularly. Like diabetes, about half of people with high blood pressure (hypertension) don’t know they have it. The likelihood of kidney damage is greatly decreased when the Hypertension is treated and blood pressure is controlled.
- Drink Your Water
Every adult and child needs a specific amount of water each day for a healthy body and mind. Four to six cups of water is necessary for generally healthy people, but for the best possible benefits of water, adults should drink 8 cups per day minimum.
- Stop Tobacco Use
Smoking cigarettes slows blood flow, meaning the kidneys get less blood than necessary. Smoking and using tobacco products also increased the risk of kidney cancer by 50 percent.
- Limit NSAIDs and Painkillers
Common NSAIDs like Naproxen and Ibuprofen can harm the kidneys if used too frequently. Limit these medications and talk to your doctor if your pain persists for more than 10 days.
- See Your Doctor
The only way to insure your kidney damage is properly diagnosed and treated is to see a primary care physician (PCP) regularly. Have your doctor check for proper kidney function if you have diabetes, hypertension, a family history of kidney disease, or if you are obese.