March is National Kidney Month
March is National Kidney Month, which provides everyone with the opportunity to take action in protecting their kidneys. Kidney disease is the 9th leading cause of death in the United States. An estimated 31 million people in the US have chronic kidney disease (CKD). Of those people, not everyone knows they have the disease and continue to put their kidneys in harm’s way. That is why it's especially important to take action early and prevent putting your kidneys at risk for more damage.
Your kidneys are responsible for several key functions. They remove harmful waste products or toxins from the blood by producing urine. The kidneys control the balance of fluids and electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, and phosphorus, to carry out healthy cellular and metabolic activity. Renin, a significant hormone involved with blood pressure control, is released by the kidney, which helps pump blood throughout the body. Your kidneys also work with the bones to make new red blood cells and, ultimately, supply us with the appropriate amount of oxygen to be healthy. Our bodies cannot survive without these kidney functions and it is imperative to maintain good kidney health.
There are many steps you can take in order to provide better protection for your kidneys:
1. Get tested. There are certain diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, that place you at a higher risk for developing kidney disease. That's why getting screened regularly is important.
2. Exercise regularly. Exercising a half hour daily will keep all of your major organs healthy, including your heart and kidney. Getting regular exercise will also decrease your blood pressure which in turn will help keep your kidneys healthy. If you have diabetes, it is important to perform frequent blood sugar readings in order to keep your levels in a healthy range. Staying in control of both your blood sugar levels and blood pressure will slow the progression of kidney disease a great deal.
3. Keep an eye on your medications. Just because you can get a medication without a prescription doesn’t mean it won’t cause any harm. Chronic use of over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as NSAIDS (i.e. Advil, Motrin, Aleve) can impair your kidney function. It is important to pay attention to the maximum daily doses that come with the medication and talk with your health care practitioner before starting any new medications.
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