March is National Kidney Month, a time to raise awareness about a disease that affects more than 30 million adults in the US.
Role of the kidneys-
The kidneys, which are about the size of a fist and are located in the lower back, are responsible for at least three vital functions:
- They filter the toxic waste products “that our bodies produce within 24 hours as a result of our normal metabolism,”
- They maintain the state of the fluid and electrolytes of the body;
- And they produce the hormone responsible for keeping the body’s red blood cell count high, as well as a hormone vital for bone health.
What is kidney disease and what are the symptoms?
Kidney disease occurs when the kidney is damaged to the point where it can not filter blood properly, and symptoms usually are not evident until the kidney is already severely damaged and functioning at 25 percent or less.
“Because he can not maintain good fluid and electrolyte control, his body begins to retain fluid in the form of swelling in the ankles, face and other places,”
Interruption of electrolytes can cause unexplained nausea, vomiting or itching. And with the interruption of the hormone, anemia, fatigue and bone fractures due to trivial injuries may occur.
“We do not want people to get to that stage.” We want early testing so that preventive measures can begin to delay progression to later stages or end-stage renal disease, ”
Tests for kidney disease-
One of the goals of National Kidney Month is to encourage patients to talk with their doctors about their risks of kidney disease and whether tests should be done.
Dr said that tests for kidney disease are usually part of the “normal battery of tests that are performed.” One part is a blood test to determine how well the kidneys filter toxins, and the other is a urine test to measure protein levels.
“Your kidneys are supposed to filter toxins and retain important proteins in the system, but since those proteins are excreted in the urine, that’s a good indication that kidney damage has occurred.”
The two biggest risks for kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. Dr. said that one in three people with diabetes and one in five with high blood pressure has kidney disease.
Family history of heart or kidney disease also increases the risk. And Dr. said that certain racial and ethnic groups, including African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans, are also at increased risk of kidney disease.
“Although your genes may put you at high risk, you may not necessarily determine if that risk becomes a reality, and a lot of that has to do with environmental factors and things you can control,” said Dr, who added that A healthy weight and getting enough sleep are two preventive measures.
Dr. said there are medications that can slow the progression of kidney disease from early-stage chronic kidney disease to end-stage kidney disease, and many more are being introduced. More than 700,000 Americans have end-stage kidney disease, which is treated with dialysis or a kidney transplant.