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March is National Kidney Month

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March is National Kidney Month

March is National Kidney Month. There are 26 million American adults who are estimated to have kidney disease. 1 in 3 adults in the US are at risk for kidney disease. As many as 9 in 10 adults with Chronic Kidney Disease do not know they have kidney problems. 

As home to a hemodialysis center and a peritoneal dialysis program, Blue Mountain Hospital takes kidney disease very seriously. It's important to educate on what your kidneys do, what you can do to help them work hard, the signs of kidney disease, and your treatment options. And that's why we are here writing this blog. 

Keep reading to learn all about kidneys!

Kidney Basics

Most people have two kidneys. They are described as bean-shaped, fist-sized organs located just below the rib cage on each side of your spine. They are one of the most essential and hardworking organs in the body. 

What do kidneys do?

Your kidneys are made of a lot of nephrons, filtering units in your body. This is how your kidneys do the most well-known function, removing waste and excess fluid from your body. Your kidneys can filter about 200 quarts of blood each day and make 1-2 quarts of urine. In addition to removing waste and fluid, your kidneys also balance the body's fluid to prevent swelling or dehydration, regulate your blood pressure, produce Vitamin D to keep your bones and immune system healthy, and control the production of red blood cells so your body has enough oxygen. Without these functions to keep the balance in your body, the rest of you may not work properly. 

How can I love my kidneys?

You have to watch your diet and choose foods low in nutrients that your kidneys have to filter out so they don't work as hard. You don't have to run marathons, but keeping active and fit can lower the risk of chronic kidney disease. It's important to keep track of your blood sugar because people with diabetes are more likely to develop kidney disease and controlled blood sugar can reduce the risk of damage. Do your best to keep your blood pressure at 120/80 since high blood pressure can cause severe kidney damage. Drink those eight glasses of water a day! And, be aware of the over-the-counter drugs you take as some of them could put additional strain on your kidneys if you take them more than recommended. 

What are the signs of kidney disease? 

Unfortunately, even if you are taking good care of your kidneys and your overall health, there is still a possibility of kidney disease. It's important to know what the signs of kidney disease are so you can start fighting as soon as possible. You're more tired than usual and have less energy (a decrease in kidney function can lead to a buildup of toxins in the blood which can cause you to feel tired and week). You may have dry or itchy skin (your kidneys help keep bones strong and maintain the minerals in your blood, if they aren't working then your skin could be affected). You feel the need to urinate more often (not actually urinating, but just an increase in the urge to go to the bathroom). You're ankles or feet are swollen (kidney damage can lead to sodium retention which causes your body to swell). There are many other signs and many of these signs don't absolutely lead to kidney disease. But, it's important to be aware of the signs so that you can recognize them and contact your doctor as soon possible. 

What are my treatment options if I do have kidney disease?

This is a hefty question with a lot of different and, sometimes, complicated answers. It is really an individual answer to each person. It can depend on their age, their overall health, their level of kidney damage, and so much more. I could go into detail and probably confuse you more than answer you, but there's a better idea. The Blue Mountain Hospital Dialysis Team has created a "Kidney Option Class" for those diagnosed with kidney disease to discuss options. These classes will be held the First Tuesday of Every Month at Blue Mountain Hospital at 4PM. You can find more information here. We hope you can join us.