National Kidney Month: Time to learn about kidneys and kidney disease

National Kidney Month 162x210 National Kidney Month: Time to learn about kidneys and kidney diseaseMarch is National Kidney Month, a great time to learn more about kidneys and kidney disease, the ninth leading cause of death in the U.S. The National Kidney Foundation has created a graphic full of useful information, which includes six ways kidneys keep you healthy, eight problems kidney disease can cause, four risk factors and seven symptoms of kidney disease, and two tests you can take to check your kidney health.

Kidneys filter wastes from 200 liters of blood a day, help regulate both fluid levels and blood pressure, keep blood minerals in balance and direct red blood cell production. Twenty-six million American adults have chronic kidney disease (CKD) and millions of others are at increased risk. Some problems that are caused by kidney disease are nerve damage, cardiovascular disease, weak bones, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, anemia, and kidney failure.

High blood pressure is not only caused by CKD but it is also a risk factor for kidney disease; hypertension causes the disease. That and diabetes are the two main risk factors for developing kidney disease. Other risk factors include family history and being older than 60 years of age. African Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, and American Indians are also at increased risk. Kidney damage can also be caused by lupus and this can run in families.

Another risk factor that has recently been receiving attention in the media is reports of studies linking proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to chronic kidney disease and kidney failure. These drugs are extremely popular acid-reducing drugs available both in prescription form and over the counter. They were prescribed in 2013 to an estimated 15 million Americans according to Nephrology News.

Many people don’t even know they have kidney disease. Part of the education both the National Kidney Foundation and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases are trying to promote this month is knowledge about the risks because symptoms of kidney disease often don’t present until the disease has progressed. Symptoms include swelling of the face, hands, abdomen, ankles and feet; blood in the urine or foamy urine or difficult, painful urination; puffy eyes; increased thirst; poor appetite; muscle cramping at night; and fatigue.

For those who might be at risk, doctors can give you both a blood and a urine test to check your kidney function. Early detection can make a difference in preventing the need for dialysis or kidney transplant. According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than 590,000 people have kidney failure in the U.S. today and there are over 95,000 people waiting for kidney transplants.

“Early detection and treatment can slow the progression of chronic kidney disease and prevent complications like kidney failure and heart disease,” Dr. Solti Grasz of Baptist Health said. “Treatment usually consists of measures such as medications and healthy lifestyle changes to treat the underlying conditions and reduce symptoms.”

March 9 was World Kidney Day where the National Kidney Foundation asked people to “Heart Your Kidneys for a change!” spreading the word about kidney health with urgency. But if you missed World Kidney Day all of March is National Kidney Month, and in fact any time is a good time to learn and spread knowledge that can save lives.

National Kidney Foundation
National Kidney Foundation
National Kidney Foundation
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Nephrology News
Baptist Health