Twenty-six million American adults suffer from some level of chronic kidney disease. The National Kidney Foundation projects that number will only grow if people aren't more proactive about prevention.
March is National Kidney Month, so the foundation is encouraging Americans to learn more about kidneys -- vital organs in the middle of your back that filter waste from the blood and produce important hormones.
Chronic kidney disease can progress to end-stage renal disease, which means dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant to stay alive. "Kidney failure in its severe form is a major life-changing disease," says Roger Rodby, MD, nephrology program fellowship director at Rush University Medical Center.
Although symptoms aren't always obvious, it's crucial to identify kidney disease early -- or determine whether you might be at risk -- as medications and lifestyle changes may be able to prevent or slow its progression.
For starters, everyone should get checked for diabetes and high blood pressure, which are the leading causes of kidney failure.
"If you're not seeing a doctor regularly to be screened for these, you should, especially if there's a family history of either of them," Rodby says. People who are 60 or older or have heart disease also may be at risk, while secondary risk factors include obesity, autoimmune diseases and urinary tract infections.
The National Kidney Foundation has several suggestions for keeping your kidneys healthy:
- Don't overuse over-the-counter painkillers or NSAIDs.
- Control your weight.
- Get an annual physical.
- Follow a healthy diet.
- Know your family's medical history.
- Monitor blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Learn about kidney disease.
- Talk to your doctor about getting tested if you're at risk for chronic kidney disease.
More Information at Your Fingertips:
- For more information about kidney-related treatment and services at Rush, visit the Nephrology home page.
- Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (888 352-7874)
- Looking for information on other health topics? Visit our Health Information home page.
Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.
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