Kidney Disease Risks, Symptoms and Prevention

Your kidneys are bean-shaped organs about the size of a closed fist and located on either side of the spine near the middle of the back, just below the ribcage. Kidneys are like the body’s treatment plant, processing about 200 quarts of fluid each day and removing approximately 2 quarts of waste products and extra water that become urine. Keeping your kidneys healthy is very important to overall health. If your kidneys do not function properly, waste can build up in the blood and eventually damage the body.

Facts About Kidneys

  • Of the 200 quarts of fluid your kidneys filter each day, about 198 quarts are recovered and 2 quarts exit as urine.
  • Your bladder stores urine for anywhere from one to eight hours.
  • One in three American adults is at risk for kidney disease.
  • Two simple tests can detect kidney disease – a urine test or a blood test.

Risks of Kidney Disease

It’s possible to lose kidney function so slowly that you don’t notice until it’s too late to reverse disease. That’s why it’s important to know if you are at risk.

  • You may be at risk for kidney disease if you are over age 60 or if you are obese, have have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or a first degree relative with kidney failure.
  • Certain races have higher risk factors for kidney disease: African-American/Black, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaska Native.

Symptoms of Kidney Disease

  • Frequent urination, especially at night, and blood in the urine or foamy urine are symptoms to make you aware.
  • Puffiness around the eyes or swelling of hands and feet can indicate protein in the urine or sodium retention.
  • Excessive tiredness or difficulty sleeping may indicate that kidneys aren’t filtering properly and toxins remain in the blood.
  • Dry, itchy skin may indicate an imbalance of minerals and nutrients in the blood.
  • Muscle cramps can occur due to electrolyte imbalances caused by impaired kidney function.

Prevent Kidney Disease

You can protect your kidneys by not smoking, drinking only moderate amounts of alcohol, losing weight if you’re overweight, eating a healthy, low salt diet and exercising.

Why Manage Kidney Disease

Over time, kidney disease can get worse and lead to kidney failure:

  • It can also cause heart and blood vessel disease and other health problems.
  • Having too much potassium compared to normal range is a serious problem for people with chronic kidney disease and is also linked to congestive heart failure.

While chronic kidney disease cannot be cured, the progression of the disease can be slowed and managed so people with the condition can make their kidneys last longer. They should see their doctor regularly, control high blood pressure and diabetes, and take medications as prescribed. For more information about keeping your kidneys healthy, talk with your doctor.

National Kidney Foundation

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