By the bioMérieux Connection Editors
March is National Kidney Month, and a time to raise awareness about the risk factors for chronic kidney disease and the dangers of acute kidney injury (AKI). This year, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and the National Kidney Foundation would like the focus of the month to be on taking charge of kidney health and the many factors that go into managing it.
Kidney disease, also known as chronic kidney failure, characterizes the gradual loss of kidney function. One in nine adults in the U.S. have kidney disease and one in three may be at high risk of developing the disease.
“Of the 26 million American adults estimated to have kidney disease, most don’t know they have it,” said Joseph Vassalotti, MD, National Kidney Foundation CMO. “That’s why taking care of your kidneys, especially if you are at risk for kidney disease, is vital.”
Because it is typically progressive, chronic kidney disease can lead to serious health complications, including kidney failure. However, the disease is often overlooked until symptoms appear and even then, symptoms can be non-specific. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help prevent kidney disease and help those with kidney disease slow its progression and manage any complications.
Kidney injury can also be acute, often resulting from a serious illness. This form of kidney injury can occur rapidly and is most common in those who are already hospitalized. The sudden episode of kidney damage, known as acute kidney injury (AKI), can be life-threatening.
This month, the National Kidney Foundation is calling on all Americans to take five healthy steps for their kidneys.
- Getting tested for kidney disease if you’re at risk. Ask your doctor for an annual ACR urine test or a GFR blood test if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, are over age 60, or have a family history of kidney failure. You can also get screened for free through the National Kidney Foundation’s KEEP Healthy program by clicking here.
- Reducing NSAID use. Using over the counter pain medicines, such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), can be harmful to the kidneys, especially for those who already have kidney disease. Reducing your regular use of NSAIDs and never using more than the recommended dosage can help.
- Cutting out processed foods. Processed foods can be significant sources of sodium, nitrates, and phosphates, and have been linked to cancer, heart disease, and kidney disease.
- Exercising regularly. Regular exercise can keep your bones, muscles, blood vessels, heart, and kidneys healthy. Getting active for at least 30 minutes a day can also help control blood pressure and lower blood sugar, two important aspects of kidney health.
- Controlling blood pressure and diabetes. High blood pressure and diabetes are the leading causes of kidney disease and kidney failure. Managing high blood pressure and strictly controlling blood sugar levels can slow the progression of kidney disease.
Participate in National Kidney Month by taking charge of your kidney health! For questions related to your kidney health, visit your doctor and remember that you can get your kidney health screened for free through the National Kidney Foundation’s KEEP Healthy program.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of bioMérieux, Inc.