Kidney disease affects millions of people. Here's how to keep kidneys healthy

09, Mar 2023

One in every seven adults suffers from chronic kidney disease (CKD) in the United States.

Kidney disease develops when kidneys lose their ability to remove waste products and maintain fluid and chemical balances in the body.

The severity of CKD depends on how well the kidneys can filter blood waste. CKD can progress quickly or may take many years to develop.

The kidneys are two vital bean-shaped organs located in your lower back.

These organs maintain overall health by regulating the body's salt, potassium and acid content.


Kidneys also play a crucial role in fluid balance, releasing hormones to regulate blood pressure, removing drugs from the body, controlling the production of red blood cells, and producing an active form of vitamin D to promote strong, healthy bones.

CKD is often called a "silent killer disease" because there are usually little to no symptoms during its early stages. Most people are unaware they have kidney disease until the advanced stages of kidney failure.  

Some symptoms of kidney disease can include but are not limited to nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, altered urine output, muscle cramps, itching, swelling of feet and ankles and confusion.

Kidney disease can lead to many other complications, including anemia, fluid retention, increased risk of bone fractures, and a decrease in the strength of your immune system, thereby increasing the chances of contracting infections.

CKD risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and a family history of kidney disease.

Diabetes remains the leading cause of kidney disease, followed by high blood pressure, the second leading cause.

All adults with the above risk factors of CKD should be screened for kidney disease. 

Because kidney disease can remain asymptomatic, screening with laboratory tests are critical.

Laboratory tests include checking for increased creatinine, a waste product in the blood that reflects abnormal kidney function.

The GFR indicates the person's chronic kidney disease stage, which evaluates kidney function.

One marker of kidney health and a critical part of managing CKD knows your eGFR, or estimated glomerular filtration rate, which measures how well kidneys filter waste from the body.

Your GFR is calculated by factoring in age, gender, creatinine and ethnicity.

As CKD gets worse, your eGFR number will go down. A low eGFR of less than 60 for three months or more indicates most likely stage 3 CKD, at which point a consultation with your doctor is needed to discuss options to slow the progression of your CKD and how you can keep your kidneys as healthy as possible.

Another critical test to help confirm CKD is the urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio test. High urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio is also a sign of kidney damage.

Kidney failure can often be prevented or delayed through early detection and proper treatment of underlying risk factors.

Consuming the right amount of sodium, fluid and protein is also essential. Additionally, one should exercise and avoid dehydration. Treating diabetes and high blood pressure will slow additional damage to the kidneys.

End-stage renal disease patients have two treatment options.

Dialysis is a treatment that involves the removal of wastes and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys cannot do it on their own. Typically, it is initiated when an individual loses about 85-90 percent of kidney function.

Kidney transplantation is the only other treatment option for people with end-stage renal disease.

March is National Kidney Month. This month reminds us to raise awareness of our kidneys' importance and reduce the progression and impact of kidney disease and allied health problems. 

Simple preventive measures include regular exercise, eating a healthy diet and avoiding or limiting the use of salt, alcohol and tobacco products can help our loved ones.

If hypertensive and diabetic, maintain daily blood pressure and blood sugar log and try to control the blood pressure and blood sugar. Consult a dietitian and create a kidney-healthy eating plan. Taking charge of your health and being informed of CKD signs, symptoms, treatment, and prevention can lead to a longer life expectancy free of complications from CKD.



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Dr. Sue Mitra and her staff strive to offer their patients the best care, advice and services available in the medical field with the goal to keep patient healthy & happy.