SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Good Things Utah) – March is National Kidney Awareness Month, and it’s a great time to focus on taking care of your kidneys and promoting kidney health.
Most people have two functioning kidneys, which filter wastes and toxins from the blood and regulate the body’s fluid and electrolyte levels. Unfortunately, one in three Americans are at risk of kidney disease due to conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.
“Kidneys play an extremely important role in our bodies. They clean our blood by filtering out waste products and maintaining a normal fluid and electrolyte balance. Waste products and excess fluid are removed from our bodies in the form of urine,” said Miriam Padilla, MD, a kidney health expert Intermountain Health’s Utah Valley Endocrine & Diabetes Clinic in Provo. “Our kidneys also secrete important hormones that help regulate blood pressure, stimulate red blood cell production and promote strong, healthy bones.”
Here are four things you need to know about kidneys this month from experts at Intermountain Health:
1. Kidney Disease is Silent
Kidney disease doesn’t announce itself like a heart attack. One in seven adults in the U.S. have some level of kidney disease, but sadly, only one in ten people with kidney disease are even aware they have the condition.
“This creates a significant health risk because patients aren’t getting the care they need,” said Dr. Padilla. “There are steps individuals can take to help slow the progression of kidney disease. By the time symptoms become apparent, damage is often irreversible.”
A quick way to evaluate your risk for kidney disease is to take the quiz at MinuteforyourKidneys.org.
2. Declining Kidney Function Can Create More Problems
Kidneys affect the function of other organs such as your heart and cardiovascular system. Having kidney disease, which is also called CKD or chronic kidney disease, greatly increases a person’s risk of heart and cardiovascular disease.
“Untreated, chronic kidney disease leads to kidney failure. This results in the need for renal replacement therapies such as a kidney transplant or dialysis treatments,” said Dr. Padilla.
Fortunately, many of the treatments for CKD also protect the heart in addition to slowing kidney disease. If kidney disease progression is prevented or slowed, a patient can enjoy better health and lower healthcare costs.
3. Knowing Your Risk
A person may be at risk for developing chronic kidney disease if they have diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, a family history of kidney disease, or you over-use medications that can be harmful to kidneys such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
Additionally, minorities are disproportionately impacted by CKD making kidney disease a health equity priority. Fortunately, kidney failure can be prevented if recognized and treated early enough.
4. Screenings Saves Lives
“Having an awareness of your risk factors is the first step, then talking to your doctor your doctor about regular screenings is the second,” said Dr. Padilla. “A simple annual blood and urine test can reveal how well your kidneys are functioning, and if additional action is needed. Prevention is always the best and easiest medicine.”
“It’s important to know that having kidney disease does not mean you will always progress to kidney failure,” Dr. Padilla noted. “That’s why awareness, screening and treatment are vital. There are many steps you can take to maintain and/or improve kidney function.”
Talk to your doctor if you are at risk for kidney disease.
To learn more about kidney health and kidney disease awareness and treatment go to Intermountain Health at IntermountainHealthcare.org/kidney or call 1-801-357-7850.
Sponsored by Intermountain Health.