Be Kind to Your Kidneys

Chronic kidney disease is on the rise but treatable if detected early

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Have you thought about your kidneys lately? With World Kidney Day on March 14, take time to check in with your vital organs. 

Between 8 and 10 percent of the adult population have some form of kidney damage.

The International Society of Nephrology and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations encourages people to find out if they’re at risk for chronic kidney disease and how to detect the problem early.

"Ask a doctor about kidney disease tests."

You might not think often of your kidneys, working away deep in the abdomen, on the back side of the rib cage. They mainly function to remove toxins and maintain water balance in the blood.

They also help to keep blood pressure in check, maintain healthy bones and produce red blood cells.

The problem with kidney disease is that it’s hard to detect. Obvious symptoms appear only at a stage when it’s almost too late, when the kidneys have failed and dialysis or a transplant may be needed.

The good news is kidney disease can be detected early on through simple blood and urine tests. When caught early, healthcare providers can help you launch an offensive that can prevent further kidney damage or cardiovascular problems.

Screening is critical if you are considered at high risk for getting the disease. You may be considered high risk if you:

  • Have diabetes and hypertension
  • Are obese or smoke
  • Are over 50 years of age, although the National Kidney Foundation says that the high risk starts at age 60
  • Have a family history of kidney disease, diabetes or hypertension

To keep your kidneys in shape, you can take protective measures. The World Kidney Day website recommends these eight golden rules of kidney care:

  1. Keep fit and active. Exercise helps lower blood pressure and the risk of chronic kidney disease.
  2. Do not take over-the-counter pills on a regular basis. Common medications such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, used for conditions such as arthritis) are known to cause kidney damage and disease if taken regularly. Ibuprofen is such a medication.
  3. Keep regular control of your blood sugar level. Half of people with diabetes develop kidney damage and are advised to have regular kidney checkups.
  4. Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure can cause kidney damage (and lead to stroke and heart attack). You should reduce salt intake to lower blood pressure if its too high.  
  5. Eat healthy and keep your weight in check. These healthy habits help prevent diabetes, heart disease and other conditions associated with chronic kidney disease.
  6. Maintain a healthy fluid intake. Studies have shown that drinking plenty of water and other fluids daily can help keep up good health. Three to four pints of water per day is recommended.
  7. Do not smoke. Smoking slows blood flow to the kidneys, impairing their function.
  8. Get your kidney function checked if you have one or more of the high-risk factors. If you have any of the high-risk factors listed in this article, get the lab tests needed to check your kidneys.

If you do develop chronic kidney disease, you may need a transplant or one of two types of dialysis, according to the National Institutes of Health:

  • Hemodialysis is a process in which the blood is run through an external filter and the clean blood is returned to the body. Hemodialysis is usually done at a dialysis center three times a week.
  • Peritoneal dialysis is a process in which the lining of your abdominal cavity (the space in your body that holds organs like the stomach, intestines and liver) filters your blood. This kind of dialysis is needed daily but it can be performed at home, while you sleep.

For more information on kidney disease, visit WorldKidneyDay.org.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 12, 2013
Last Updated:
March 14, 2013