Are you at risk for chronic kidney disease?
Today is World Kidney Day, which is a global campaign aimed at raising awareness around the importance of our kidneys.
Chronic kidney disease is a debilitating condition that often requires dialysis. Yet many times, people who are at risk may not know it.
The kidneys are the two-bean shaped organs that filter your blood. If they are unable to keep up with your body’s demands, waste builds up. This causes kidney disease and leads to poor appetite, muscle cramps, swollen feet, fatigue and increased urination.
The two main causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes and hypertension. Both conditions damage the blood vessels in the kidneys and impair their ability to filter blood.
“High blood pressure leads to kidney disease and kidney failure,” says Dr. Dean Ferrera, a cardiologist with Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago. “Heart disease isn’t just about the heart. It can cause poor circulation which causes skin conditions, digestive issues and kidney failure.”
African Americans are particularly susceptible to kidney problems because of their higher rates of hypertension and diabetes. In fact, African Americans make up 32 percent of patients on dialysis, but only 13 percent of the U.S. population, according to the National Institutes of Health. Others at risk include smokers, those with chronic urinary tract infections and people with high sodium diets.
If left untreated, chronic kidney disease won’t go away, which is why early intervention is important. Physicians urge vigilance and regular screenings for those at risk, because in its early stages, the disease rarely causes symptoms.
The National Kidney Center offers three main tips for preventing chronic kidney disease.
1. Know if you’re at risk: That way you can be vigilant and monitor for any signs.
2. Control your blood pressure: Monitor your blood pressure to ensure it is within the normal range. If it’s too high, you can lower your blood pressure by exercising, decreasing salt and alcohol intake and cutting out tobacco. Your doctor can also prescribe medication.
3. Control your blood glucose: If you have diabetes, it is extremely important to keep your blood glucose within a normal range. In addition to the medications your doctor can prescribe, eating a well-balanced diet that’s low in added sugar, exercising regularly and staying hydrated can help.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.