This month brings awareness and education about the importance of our kidneys in maintaining a healthy life. Kidney function is unique because you may not notice the symptoms until the function is already far gone. The CDC reports chronic kidney disease is a condition that 1 in every 7 adults (age 18 or older) in the United States has, as well as people with end stage renal disease who need dialysis or a kidney transplant.

How do your kidneys keep you healthy?

  1. Help remove excess fluid levels in the body.
  2. Make vitamins that control growth.
  3. Activate Vitamin D for healthy bones.
  4. Filter wastes from the blood.
  5. Control the production of red blood cells.
  6. Release hormones that help regulate blood pressure.
  7. Help regulate blood pressure, red blood cells, and the amount of certain nutrients in the body, such as calcium and potassium.

There are many complications associated with kidney disease. They include cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, heart attack, weak bones, high blood pressure, stroke, anemia/low red blood cell count and of course kidney failure.

doctor speaking with a patient

Speak openly with your doctor about any concerns you may have regarding your health. (Photo source: Tyler Jones, UF/IFAS)

The main risk factors for kidney disease and the problems associated with it are high blood pressure, diabetes, family history, and being 60 years old and above. Out of these four problems, two of them – high blood pressure and diabetes – may be managed by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, taking medications as prescribed, regular visits to your doctor and exercise. If you have been diagnosed with either of these two, you need to regularly monitor your blood pressure and glucose levels, take medications if prescribed, and speak openly with your doctor about concerns or questions you may have. Family history and being over the age of 60 are not issues you can control, but you can strive to live a healthy lifestyle and regularly have blood work drawn so your doctor can help catch any issues that are becoming a problem. Learning to maintain and follow your doctor’s orders will go a long way to keeping you and your kidneys healthy longer.

What are the symptoms you may notice if you are experiencing kidney problems?

  1. Swelling in your face, hands, abdomen, ankles, and feet.
  2. Blood in your urine or foamy urine.
  3. Puffy eyes.
  4. Difficult, painful urination.
  5. Increased thirst.
  6. Fatigue.

If you notice any of these problems or are just concerned because of family history, your family doctor can order the blood work to check your kidney function.  If you find out you are experiencing kidney problems you should see a nephrologist – a kidney specialist.

Although many people ignore the importance of their kidneys, they play a very important part in our daily bodily functions in regulating minerals, fluids, blood pressure, and so much more. Striving to maintain a healthy lifestyle will help to ensure your kidneys keep working hard for you. Be sure to show your kidneys some love this March to celebrate National Kidney Month.

Sources:

National Kidney Foundation – https://www.kidney.org/
Center for Disease and Prevention – https://www.cdc.gov/

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