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Taking Care of Your Kidneys

March is National Kidney Month. What I like about these special observations is that they make us aware of certain disorders that we should address or get tested for to ensure we remain healthy. There are other disorders that are observed this month, but since the month is almost over, I’ll just focus on the kidney.

What are your kidneys and what do they do

Located on either side of the spine at the lowest level of the rib cage, the kidneys are about the size of a fist and have the important function of filtering waste from the body. The kidneys filter and return about 200 quarts of fluid to the bloodstream every 24 hours. About 2 quarts are removed from the body in the form of urine. In addition to filtering and removing waste from the body, the kidneys also:

a. balance the body’s fluids
b. produce hormones that regulate blood pressure
c. produce an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones
d. control the production of red blood cells

What can cause kidney disease

Diabetes, high blood pressure, genetics or being over the age of 60 can contribute to kidney disease.

Diabetes – a disease in which a person’s body does not produce enough insulin or cannot use it properly. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease.
High blood pressure – this occurs when the force of the blood against the artery walls increases. This may lead to strokes and heart attacks.
Genetics – Polycystic kidney disease is the most common inherited kidney disease.
Kidney stones, urinary tract infections, using large amounts of over-the-counter pain meds, street drugs such as heroin and crack can damage your kidneys.

Warning signs of kidney disease:

Tiredness/decreased energy
High blood pressure
Blood in the urine
Frequent urination, especially at night; difficult or painful urination
Puffiness around eyes; swelling of hands and feet
A creatinine and Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) blood test, outside the normal range. When your kidney function is reduced, BUN and creatinine are wastes that build up in the blood.
A glomerular filtration rate (GFR) less than 60.

When it comes to kidney disease, there is bad news and good news. The bad news is that most people will not know they have kidney disease until the disease has already progressed. The good news is that it can be treated successfully. In my next post, I will tell you how you can avoid getting this disease and, if you already have it, how it can be treated.
Until next time,
Stay well.

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