National Kidney Month

March is National Kidney Month. When they’re healthy and working right, your kidneys do a lot for your body: they activate Vitamin D (which is good for your bones), they help regulate your blood pressure (which is good for your heart), and they filter waste from your blood (which is good for your whole body).

However, if you suffer from chronic kidney disease, you could be facing several health issues. These include heart disease, nerve damage, stroke, and, eventually, kidney failure.

What Do Your Kidneys Do?

Your kidneys play an important role in your overall health. They are filters that help keep your blood and organs clean and healthy. Your kidneys remove waste and toxins from your blood and regulate chemicals in your blood. Your kidneys help control your blood pressure and help you maintain healthy bones.

Watch the following video to learn more about how kidneys balance the amount of fluid in your body, detect waste in your blood, and know when to release the vitamins, minerals, and hormones you need to stay alive.


How to Maintain Good Kidney Health

Remember how we said your kidneys play an important role in your overall health? Likewise, your overall health plays an important role in kidney health. Keep your kidneys in fighting shape by doing the following:

What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a leading cause of death in the United States. It’s a slow, silent killer because there are no signs or symptoms in its early stages. Forty percent of those with reduced kidney function resulting from CKD are unaware they have it. With CKD, the kidneys are damaged and can no longer filter blood properly, allowing excess fluid and waste to remain in the body. CKD can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, anemia, increased occurrence of infections, loss of appetite, and even depression brought about by the poor quality of health and life. Cases of CKD can eventually lead to kidney failure.

As CKD progresses, the loss of kidney function can lead to a variety of health issues, including:

  • Nausea
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Fatigue
  • General Physical Weakness
  • Urinating More or Less
  • Swelling of Feet and Ankles
  • Shortness of Breath Due to Fluid Build-up in the Lungs
  • Chest Pain Due to Fluid Build-up Around the Heart

It is difficult to diagnose CKD from these signs and symptoms, as they are common issues that can be caused by other illnesses. Also, your kidneys can make up for lost function, so direct symptoms of CKD may not appear until there is permanent damage.

The main risk factors for CKD include:

If you are at higher risk for CKD, your doctor may want you to get your kidneys tested. The sooner you know the health of your kidneys, the sooner you can take steps to protect them. Use the following resources to learn more about kidney testing.

Kidney Stones (and How to Avoid Them)

We’ve all heard horror stories about the unpleasant experience of having --- and passing --- kidney stones. Kidney stones are a hard mass of crystals that can form in the kidneys and other parts of the body. They can go undetected…until they start to move. When they move, their sharp edges scratch the wall of the urinary tract, resulting in severe pain, nausea, and a burning sensation when urinating. If big enough, kidney stones can block the flow of urine, causing it to back up into the kidneys.

Drinking plenty of water is a great first step in preventing kidney stones, but what you eat also plays a major part in prevention. The National Kidney Foundation has important information to help you avoid this painful experience. 

The following video explains more about the cause and prevention of kidney stones.


Additional Sources