The kidneys are the body's chemical factories, regulating fluid levels, filtering waste from the blood, activating vitamin D for healthy bones, directing red blood cell production, keeping blood minerals in balance and regulating blood pressure. These two bean-shaped organs, roughly 4-5 inches long, are located in the back of the abdomen and filter about half a cup of blood every hour, creating urine from the filtered harmful and unnecessary waste. But over time, the kidneys can become damaged with little or no physical symptoms to warn you that your kidneys are in trouble.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects almost 40 million American adults and is the 9th leading cause of death in the U.S. Though 1 in 9 American adults have kidney disease most do not know it. Malfunctioning kidneys can lead to painful kidney stones, cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke, anemia, nerve damage, weak bones, high blood pressure and/or kidney failure.
Having high blood pressure, diabetes, being over the age of 60 and a family history of kidney failure are major risk factors for developing kidney disease.
Symptoms of unhealthy kidneys can include blood in the urine, foamy urine, difficult and/or painful urination, increased thirst, fatigue and swelling of the face, hand, ankles, feet and abdomen.
To help prevent kidney disease it is recommended that you take preventative steps to keep your kidneys healthy and prevent the onset of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). Simple things that you can do to protect your kidneys include:
1. Reduce use of over the counter pain medicines, such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). These may alleviate your aches and pains, but they can harm the kidneys, especially if you already have kidney disease.
2. Cut out or down on Processed Foods which can be significant source of sodium, nitrates and phosphates.
3. Exercise Regularly. At least 30 minutes of activity a day can help control blood pressure and lower blood sugar, both of which are vital to kidney health.
4. Manage high blood pressure and control blood sugar levels to slow the progression of kidney disease.
5. Drink plenty of fluids (48 to 64 ounces of water daily) to help the kidneys work well.
6. Don't smoke. Smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys which may reduce their function.
7. See your doctor and get tested! Ask your doctor for an ACR urine test (estimates the amount of a type of protein, albumin, that you excrete in your urine) or a GFR blood test (tells how well your kidneys are working to remove waste from your blood) annually if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, are over age 60, or have a family history of kidney failure.
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