Healthy kidneys perform many essential functions. Among the most notable are these. Kidneys filter toxins and extra fluid from the body, regulate blood pressure, produce red blood cells, strengthen bones with an adequate supply of vitamin D, and maintain balanced pH levels.

As you can imagine, the whole body is impacted negatively when the kidneys are unable to carry out their role in the body. What could cause such a disastrous outcome? Kidney disease, which one in three Americans is at risk for. Are you at risk? What should you know about this disease?

About Chronic Kidney Disease

A result of damage done over time, chronic kidney disease (CKD) limits the kidneys’ ability to perform their main task of filtering blood. Toxins and waste build up in the body causing a host of health problems. In the beginning, there may be no noticeable symptoms. Yet, as the disease progresses, a person may experience:

  • Chest pain
  • Dry skin and/or itching
  • Edema (swelling due to excess fluid and salt buildup)
  • Unexplained numbness
  • Increased or decreased urination
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Constant fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Unintentional weight loss

Kidney failure may also occur, which would require either dialysis or a kidney transplant. Are you at risk for this progressive illness?

Risk Factors for Kidney Disease

Researchers have determined that there are several things that can increase a person’s chances of developing kidney disease at some point.

For example, diabetes is the main risk factor as consistently high blood glucose levels can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys. Approximately one in three people with diabetes have kidney disease also.

The second leading cause, which takes a similar toll on these important organs is high blood pressure (HBP). Additionally, while the link is not completely understood, there has been a connection made between heart disease and CKD.

As with many other illnesses, a family history of kidney failure can increase a person’s risk. Race is also a factor. Studies have shown that African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians tend to possess more of the above risk factors such as diabetes and HBP.

Protect Your Kidneys

Are you experiencing any of the symptoms outlined above? Do you possess any of the risk factors? Especially if you answered “yes” to one or both of those questions, you should make it a point to have a conversation with your doctor.

You’ll want to have a screening to make sure that you catch any issues as early as possible. You’ll also want to get your doctor’s advice on what you can do to prevent any kidney problems from developing, especially if you have a high risk. No doubt you’ll receive some great advice on controlling diabetes, blood pressure and so on.

Raise Awareness During March

March is National Kidney Month. In honor of this important cause, why not check into getting your screening? You could also take opportunities to encourage others to do so or, at least, to take the “Are You at Risk?” Kidney Quiz.

There are plenty of ways that you can get involved in promoting the prevention of CKD and supporting those who’ve been impacted by this disease. How will you make a difference?