Did you know that March is known as National Kidney Month? During this time, people around the world work together to raise awareness on improving kidney health and care. Nearly forty million Americans have chronic kidney disease and most of them are not even aware of their condition. In fact, people with other health conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes are at an even higher risk for developing kidney disease.
With so many people diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and millions more at risk, there is a high rate of kidney failure in the country. Almost 700,000 Americans live with kidney failure and over 100,000 people are currently waiting for kidney transplants.
Understanding Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease occurs when a person’s kidneys can no longer remove waste or maintain fluid and chemical balances in the body. As the disease worsens, the kidneys are less able to filter waste from the blood. Unfortunately, there can be almost no signs of this condition, leaving most people unaware that they have the disease until it gets more serious.
Certain groups of people are at higher risk for developing kidney disease, such as diabetics or those with high blood pressure or a family history of kidney problems. Other high-risk groups include people of Hispanic descent, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and seniors 65 or older. African Americans are also three times more likely to be diagnosed with kidney failure when compared with Caucasians. For these people, it is a great idea to get screened for chronic kidney disease.
Treatments for Chronic Kidney Disease
If caught early on, kidney failure can be prevented or delayed by undergoing the right treatment. For example, people with diabetes or high blood pressure will need to address these conditions properly to avoid additional damage to their kidneys. Eating a healthy diet and staying active can also help the kidneys stay healthy. Staying well-hydrated is also key.
For people with kidney failure, also known as end-stage renal disease, two options are available for treatment. One is known as dialysis and it is a treatment that removes wastes and excess fluid from the blood when a person’s kidneys cannot do the job. Hundreds of thousands of Americans depend on dialysis to stay alive when their kidneys fail. The only other option for people with end-stage renal disease is to get a kidney transplant.
Taking Steps to Prevent Kidney Problems
Thankfully, there are steps people can take to prevent or reduce the likelihood of developing kidney disease in the future. One of the best ways is to properly take care of any existing health problems that a person may already have. This includes taking proper care of diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure. Doing so can prevent further damage to the kidneys.
Eating healthy is also an excellent way to protect the kidneys. Cutting back on salt and added sugars can be quite helpful. Generally eating heart-healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can keep your kidneys healthy while also helping to prevent other health problems. Other healthy lifestyle habits include staying active, limiting alcohol and cigarette intake, sleeping well, and regularly participating in stress-reducing activities.
In conclusion, National Kidney Month is an important time of the year to spread awareness about kidney disease. By living a healthy lifestyle and properly managing existing health conditions, people can prevent or reduce their likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease. For people at a high risk of developing kidney problems, it is a good idea to get screened by a doctor, as there are typically little to no signs of the disease until it becomes quite serious.