March is National Kidney Month
March 11, 2018--3:21 a.m.
March is National Kidney Month, and public health officials are urging everyone to give these vital organs a second thought and #HeartYourKidneys. “Kidneys are the unsung workhorses that never get noticed until something goes wrong with them,” says Dr. Unini Odama, health director for the Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District.
“People need to know that healthy kidneys are one of the foundations for a healthy heart,” Odama says. “Kidney health is also heart health.” The number one cause of death in people with kidney disease is heart disease.”
Odama is a nephrologist, a medical doctor who specializes in kidney care and treating diseases of the kidneys. She’s calling on all Northwest Georgians to find out if they are at risk for kidney disease and take five simple steps to care for their kidneys.
"People with kidney disease usually don't have symptoms until they’ve lost most of their kidney function," Odama says. "That’s why it's so important we all understand if we are at risk for kidney disease and take steps to prevent it.”
Odama encourages “making kidney health part of everyday conversations with the same urgency as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes, because if your kidneys stop working, so do you. Ask your doctor a question, especially if you have high blood pressure or diabetes: How are my kidneys, doc?”
Over 30 million Americans suffer from kidney disease. Most don’t know it because there are often no symptoms until the disease has progressed. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common causes of kidney disease. It is the 9th leading cause of death in the United States.
Kidneys filter 200 liters of blood a day, help regulate blood pressure, and direct red blood cell production. They are also prone to disease; one in three Americans is at risk for kidney disease due to diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of kidney failure.
Kidney disease risk can be reduced (particularly) by controlling blood pressure and blood sugar and avoiding excessive use of pain medications. Early detection and treatment can slow or prevent the progression of kidney disease.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, there are a few simple things everyone can do to keep their kidneys healthy and strong.
Five simple ways to protect your kidneys:
1. Get Tested! Ask your doctor for an ACR urine test or a GFR blood test annually if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, are over age 60, or have a family history of kidney failure.
2. Reduce NSAIDs. Over the counter pain medicines, such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), may alleviate your aches and pains, but they can harm the kidneys, especially if you already have kidney disease. Reduce your regular use of NSAIDs and never go over the recommended dosage.
3. Cut the Processed Foods. Processed foods can be significant sources of sodium, nitrates and phosphates, and have been linked to cancer, heart disease and kidney disease. Try adopting the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet to guide your healthy eating habits. For information on DASH, visit http://bit.ly/2DwM8pe
4. 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.
5. Control Blood Pressure and Diabetes. High blood pressure and diabetes are the leading causes of kidney disease and kidney failure. Managing high blood pressure and strict control of blood sugar levels can slow the progression of kidney disease. Speak with your doctor if you are having trouble managing diabetes or high blood pressure.
Symptoms of kidney disease:
Although it is possible to have no symptom until kidney disease is advanced, some of the signs and symptoms of kidney disease include:
More tired/less energy
Difficulty concentrating and/or sleeping
Swollen feet/ankles; puffiness around the eyes
Muscle cramping, especially at night
Dry, itchy skin
More frequent urination; blood or bubbles in urine
Remember, if you are at risk for kidney disease, the earlier it is detected, the better your chance of slowing or stopping its progressions. If you think you are at risk or may have kidney disease, be sure to tell your doctor immediately.
For more information about kidney disease, go to https://www.kidney.org