March is National Kidney Month

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March has been declared as the National Kidney Month and today is a good day to know more about one of the most important organs in the body. After all kidneys work 24/7, yes even when a person is sleeping… It is important to know exactly how they function, what they do for the body, and what should be known about kidney disease.

Basically, the kidneys filter 200 liters of blood daily to remove toxins, waste and water and produce urine. But do you know that the kidneys also produce a hormone which stimulates the production of red blood cells? This hormone is called Erythropoietin. The kidneys also produce hormones that help regulate blood pressure and the metabolism of calcium. Additionally, the kidneys help maintain the chemical balance of salt, potassium and acid.

Even though anyone can get Chronic Kidney Disease, there are certain groups of people who are more likely to develop the disease. These would include: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asians, American Indians and Pacific Islanders. Diabetes is more common in these groups and have an inherited tendency to develop CKD. African Americans, meanwhile, have higher incidences of high blood pressure.

Those who are older, have diabetes, have high blood pressure or have a family member who has chronic disease are also most likely to develop kidney diseases. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of CKD. Diabetes damages the kidney’s filters causing protein to leak into the urine. On the other hand, HBP increases the pressure on the walls of blood vessels resulting to kidney disease, strokes and heart attacks.

Diagnosis and treatment can slow down CKD progression. Early detection is critical for CKD because physical symptoms do not appear until the end stages, or stage 5 where dialysis or kidney transplant is needed. This is the reason why kidney disease is known as the “silent killer.” Pain is not common with kidney disease, but lower back pain may result from kidney stones, blockages and infections. It is best to consult with your doctor when you have similar symptoms for proper diagnosis.

Upon detection or diagnosis, a change of lifestyle is necessary to slow down the progression and prevent kidney failure. A person diagnosed with CKD has to equip himself with knowledge and therefore know the risks and steps on how to prevent kidney failure. A diet low in salt, sugar, fat and protein is helpful for a person with CKD. Regular exercise also helps.

There are three simple tests to check for kidney disease. These are checking for HBP, having a urinalysis, and checking the Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR). You have HBP when your blood pressure is 140/90. The target blood pressure for persons with diabetes or CKD is less than 130/80. Meanwhile, urinalysis checks the urine sample for protein, red blood cells and white blood cells. Too much of any of these may mean kidney disease because these three are not normally found in urine. The GFR tests shows how well the kidneys are working to remove wastes from the body and is the best way to check kidney function.

By Blog Guest: Oankar Kundan

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