March is National Kidney Health Awareness month. Knowing how your kidneys function, some risk factors and warning signs for kidney disease, and how this contributes to your overall health is important. It is our hope that this article helps you start a conversation with your health care provider if needed.
Let’s start with some basic information. You have two kidneys, each about the size of your fist. They are located just below the rib cage, one on each side of your spine. Your kidneys have a very important role in your total health.
Here are some of the helpful things that kidneys do:
There are several healthy behaviors that you can adopt in order to protect your kidneys:
Kidney disease is a common medical issue in the United States. In fact, 1 in 3 U.S. adults are at risk for kidney disease.
Primary risk factors for kidney disease include:
Additional risk factors for kidney disease include:
Many people with early-stage kidney disease have no symptoms. However, if you have the risk factors listed above, it is important to talk with your healthcare provider. This proactive approach helps you stay ahead of any potential issues. Early detection of kidney disease leads to better medical outcomes. Therefore, it is important to stay in tune with your body and watch for symptoms. Many of the symptoms may be misleading and may mimic other conditions.
Symptoms of kidney disease include:
Proper kidney function helps you live a normal life and thrive. However, as kidney function declines, other medical conditions can arise.
Complications of kidney disease include:
If you or a loved one are in a high-risk group or are experiencing symptoms listed above, ask your primary-care physician about these tests.
If you are diagnosed with kidney disease, there are several things you can do to protect your kidneys:
You are not alone in this health and wellness journey. The Health Gap is here to help you. We offer several programs that can help you make better informed food choices and start exercising consistently.
Do Right! Nutrition Train the Trainer will teach you how to make better food choices, develop healthy eating patterns, and maintain a healthy weight, as well as how to teach others to do the same. Find out more information here https://closingthehealthgap.org/what-we-do/wellness-series/nutrition-train-the-trainer/
Do Right! Healthy Steps is a wellness series focused on diabetes including physical activity, nutrition, healthy eating. Find out more information here https://closingthehealthgap.org/what-we-do/wellness-series/healthy-steps/
National Library of Medicine | Medline Plus: https://medlineplus.gov/kidneydiseases.html
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease: www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease
National Kidney Foundation: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/sixstepshealthprimer
American Kidney Fund: www.kidneyfund.org
American Geriatrics Society’s Health in Aging Foundation: www.healthinaging.org/a-z-topic/kidney-problems