March is National Kidney Month
By Kathy Ferguson, RN, Parish Nurse
Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. Jeremiah 33:6
March is the month to celebrate our kidneys! The National Kidney Foundation sponsors National Kidney Month in March to promote kidney awareness, prevention, and treatment. This year the National Kidney Foundation is asking everyone to “Take 5 for Their Kidneys”. Did you know that 1 in 3 American adults is at risk for kidney disease? There are 37 million American adults who have kidney disease and most don’t know it. There are 100,000 people on the kidney transplant list. The time to care of your kidneys is before you develop kidney disease. This month’s article will provide basic information about the kidney and how you can protect your kidneys to keep them functioning their best.
What are the kidneys and what do they do?
You have two kidneys, each about the size of an adult fist, located on either side of the spine just below the rib cage. Your kidneys perform many vital functions that keep the rest of the body in balance. For example, kidneys:
- Help remove waste and excess fluid
- Filter the blood
- Control the production of red blood cells
- Make vitamins that control growth
- Release hormones that help regulate blood pressure
- Help regulate certain nutrients in the body, such as calcium and potassium
What causes kidney disease?
Diabetes and high blood pressure are responsible for two-thirds of chronic kidney disease cases. If you have diabetes, over time, unmanaged blood sugar can cause damage to many organs in your body, including the kidneys. If uncontrolled or poorly controlled, high blood pressure can be a leading cause of chronic kidney disease. Also, chronic kidney disease can cause high blood pressure. There are other causes of kidney disease, but diabetes and high blood pressure are the main culprits.
What are the symptoms of kidney disease?
Most people may not have any severe symptoms until their kidney disease is advanced. However, you may notice that you:
- feel more tired and have less energy
- have trouble concentrating
- have a poor appetite
- have trouble sleeping
- have muscle cramping at night
- have swollen feet and ankles
- have puffiness around your eyes, especially in the morning
- have dry, itchy skin
- need to urinate more often, especially at night
Take 5 for Your Kidneys (from the National Kidney Foundation)
All Americans can do 5 simple things to protect their kidneys:
- Get Tested
- Ask your doctor about kidney testing annually if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, are over age 60 or have a family history of kidney failure.
- Reduce NSAIDs
- Over-the-counter pain medicines, such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs—for example, ibuprofen and Aleve), can harm the kidneys, especially if you already have kidney disease. Reduce your regular use of NSAIDs and never go over the recommended dosage.
- Cut the Processed Foods
- Processed foods can be significant sources of sodium, nitrates, and phosphates, and have been linked to kidney disease.
- Exercise Regularly
- Your kidneys like it when you exercise. Regular exercise will keep your bones, muscles, blood vessels, heart, and kidneys healthy. Getting active for at least 30 minutes a day can also help you control blood pressure and lower blood sugar, which is vital to kidney health.
- Stay Well Hydrated
- Staying well hydrated helps your kidneys clear sodium and toxins from the body. Those with kidney problems or kidney failure may need to restrict their fluid intake, but for most people, drinking 1.5 to 2 liters (3 to 4 pints) of water per day is a healthy target.
- Get Tested
Take care of those kidneys! Be well.
All information in this month’s article comes from the National Kidney Foundation https://www.kidney.org/