Thirty-seven million American adults suffer from some level of chronic kidney disease, and the National Kidney Foundation projects that number will only grow if people aren't more proactive about prevention.
That why it's 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.
Know the signs
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.
"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.
What you can do
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.