March is National Kidney Month and the National Kidney Foundation is urging all Americans to give their kidneys a second thought and a well-deserved checkup.
The American Cancer Society estimated in January 2013 that 65,150 new cases of kidney cancer (40,430 men and 24,720 women) will occur in the U.S. About 13,680 people (8,780 men and 4,900 women) will die from this disease. These statistics include both renal cell carcinomas and transitional cell carcinomas of the renal pelvis.
Kidneys filter 200 liters of blood a day, help regulate blood pressure and direct red blood cell production. But they are also prone to disease; 1 in 3 Americans is at risk for kidney disease due to diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of kidney disease.
There are more than 26 million Americans who already have kidney disease, and most don't know it because there are often no symptoms until the disease has progressed.
About The Kidneys:
The kidneys are two, fist-sized organs in your lower back. They maintain overall health through the following functions:
- Filtering waste out of 200 liters of blood each day.
- Regulating of the body's salt, potassium and acid content.
- Removing of drugs from the body.
- Balancing the body's fluids.
- Releasing hormones that regulate blood pressure.
- Producing an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones.
- Controlling the production of red blood cells.
Quick facts on kidney disease:
- Kidney disease is the 9th leading cause of death in the country.
- More than 26 million Americans have kidney disease, and most don't know it.
- There are over 95,000 people waiting for kidney transplants.
- More than 590,000 people have kidney failure in the U.S. today.
What is chronic kidney disease?
Chronic kidney disease includes conditions that damage your kidneys and decrease their ability to keep you healthy by doing the jobs listed.
If kidney disease gets worse, wastes can build to high levels in your blood and make you feel sick. You may develop complications like high blood pressure, anemia (low blood count), weak bones, poor nutritional health and nerve damage.
Also, kidney disease increases your risk of having heart and blood vessel disease. These problems may happen slowly over a long period of time. Chronic kidney disease may be caused by diabetes, high blood pressure and other disorders. Early detection and treatment can often keep chronic kidney disease from getting worse. When kidney disease progresses, it may eventually lead to kidney failure, which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain life.
The Facts About Chronic Kidney Disease
- 26 million American adults have Chronic Kidney Disease and millions of others are at increased risk.
- Early detection can help prevent the progression of kidney disease to kidney failure.
- Heart disease is the major cause of death for all people with Chronic Kidney Disease.
- Glomerular filtration rate is the best estimate of kidney function.
- Hypertension causes Chronic Kidney Disease and Chronic Kidney Disease causes hypertension.
- Persistent proteinuria (protein in the urine) means Chronic Kidney Disease is present.
- High risk groups include those with diabetes, hypertension and family history of kidney disease.
- African Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and Seniors are at increased risk.
- Three simple tests can detect Chronic Kidney Disease: blood pressure, urine albumin and serum creatinine.
What causes Chronic Kidney Disease?
The two main causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure, which are responsible for up to two-thirds of the cases. Diabetes happens when your blood sugar is too high, causing damage to many organs in your body, including the kidneys and heart, as well as blood vessels, nerves and eyes. High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when the pressure of your blood against the walls of your blood vessels increases. If uncontrolled, or poorly controlled, high blood pressure can be a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes and chronic kidney disease. Also, chronic kidney disease can cause high blood pressure.
What are the symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease?
Most people may not have any severe symptoms until their kidney disease is advanced. However, you may notice that you:
- Feel more tired and have less energy.
- Have trouble concentrating.
- Have a poor appetite.
- Have trouble sleeping.
- Have muscle cramping at night.
- Have swollen feet and ankles.
- Have puffiness around your eyes, especially in the morning.
- Have dry, itchy skin.
- Need to urinate more often, especially at night.
Anyone can get chronic kidney disease at any age. However, some people are more likely than others to develop kidney disease. You may have an increased risk for kidney disease if you:
- Have diabetes.
- Have high blood pressure.
- Have a family history of chronic kidney disease.
- Are older.
- Belong to a population group that has a high rate of diabetes or high blood pressure, such as African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian, Pacific Islanders, and American Indians.
Things People with Chronic Kidney Disease Should Do:
- Lower high blood pressure.
- Moderate protein consumption.
- Avoid NSAIDs, a type of painkiller.
- Reduce salt intake.
- Get an annual flu shot.
- Keep blood-sugar levels under control if diabetic.