How often do you think about your kidneys? If you’re like many people, contemplating these two fist-sized organs may take a back burner to keeping other vital body parts healthy. What do your kidneys do anyway? Quite a bit actually! Between filtering waste from the body’s 200 liters of blood per day and balancing the body’s acid content, salt, fluids, and potassium, your kidneys still make time to regulate the production of red bloods cells and blood pressure. Phew! As if that wasn’t enough of a “to-do” list, kidneys keep you healthy by generating vitamin D which maintains strong bones.
According to the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), kidney disease is ranked as the ninth leading cause of death in the United States, and over 26 million Americans already have kidney disease—and don’t know it. There are nearly 100,000 individuals waiting for kidney transplants in the United States, so it’s important to assess your controllable risk factors and begin preventative maintenance today.
To keep your kidneys healthy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests taking steps to maintain a blood pressure below 140/90 mm/Hg. You can check with your health care provider for a specific target within which to stay. Keeping your cholesterol and sodium intake in check is also beneficial in aiding kidney health. If you have diabetes, that are special considerations to keep in mind. Aside from meeting your blood sugar targets regularly, the CDC urges those with the disease to participate in an A1c test (a common blood test used to diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes and to evaluate diabetes management), at least twice per year (and preferably four or more times), to assess your average level of blood sugar throughout the past three months.
Bladder or kidney injuries and infections can also increase your risk of developing the disease. If you notice an urgency to urinate, urine that is cloudy or contains blood, or a burning sensation, contact a urologist at Greater Boston Urology (GBU) to correct and prevent future bladder infections. If you’re experiencing fever, chills, or back pain, it may be a sign of a kidney infection, which also requires medical attention.
This March during National Kidney Month, the National Kidney Foundation is urging individuals to take advantage of free screenings and other early detection programs. To find an event in your area, visit the NKF’s Calendar.
GBU specializes in the treatment of kidney stones and stone-related diseases, as well as infections of the urinary tract, which directly impact overall kidney health. For additional information, visit GBU online at www.greaterbostonurology.com or call us at (855) 505-3335.