World Kidney Day aims to raise awareness of the importance of our kidneys to our overall health and to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide.
Getting to know our kidneys on World Kidney Day
The kidneys are complicated and amazing organs that work hard to keep us healthy. I once saw a poster at the hospital that said “Man can continue to live when his brain is dead and he’s in a coma. But when the kidneys fail, death is certain” That’s the truth.
Our kidneys have a busy portfolio. Here are their critical tasks:
- Make urine
- Remove wastes and extra fluid from the blood
- Detox our system
- Control our body’s chemical balance (sodium/potassium…)
- Control salt and water in the body
- Help control blood pressure
- Help keep bones healthy
- Help make red blood cells
Kidney disease usually progresses silently, often destroying most of the kidney function before any symptoms show up. Since you may see no signs in the early stages of kidney disease timely detection of failing kidney function is crucial as it allows you to get treated before kidney damage or deterioration occurs through other complications.
Signs of Kidney Disease
Did you know?
A person can lose up to 90% of their kidney function before experiencing any symptoms.
Kidney diseases are silent killers, which will largely affect your quality of life. Luckily there are many ways to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease. The first signs that you are sick may be general: frequent headaches or feeling tired or itchy all over.
If your kidney disease gets worse, you may
- need to urinate more often or less often.
- lose your appetite or experience nausea and vomiting.
- find your hands or feet swell or feel numb.
- get drowsy or have trouble concentrating.
- Notice your skin darkening.
- have muscle cramps.
Diagnosis is through simple lab tests:
- Blood tests (to measure creatinine content and estimate GFR)
- Urine tests (to measure creatinine and albumin excretion)
Are you at risk for kidney disease
If you have answered yes to one or more of these questions, talk to your doctor to see if you need testing for kidney disease!
- Do you have high blood pressure?
- Do you suffer from diabetes?
- Do you have a family history of kidney disease?
- Are you overweight?
- Do you smoke?
- Are you over 50 years?
- Are you of African, Hispanic, Aboriginal or Asian origin?
Here are eight ways to to prevent or slow down the progression of chronic kidney disease, while protecting against kidney and cardiovascular disease:
- Take steps to treat high blood pressure -the lower the blood pressure and within the normal range, the slower the GFR decline
- Talk to your doctor about medication to reduce proteinuria as well as lower blood pressure – angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs)
- Reduce salt intake to lower blood pressure
- Control of blood glucose, blood lipids and anemia
- Quit smoking
- Increase physical activity (100 reasons to exercise)
- Maintain healthy weight
Bringing it all together on World Kidney Day
Celebrate World Kidney Day!
On March 12, 2015, WorldKidneyDay.org invites everyone to drink a glass of water and give one too to celebrate their kidneys.
This is a symbolic gesture to remember that kidneys are vital organs and that they should be taken care of; it is a way to make people more conscious about their lifestyle choices.
This year’s theme “Kidney Health for All” helps highlight a number of key issues and challenges in tackling Chronic Kidney Disease in vulnerable populations: poor water hygiene, lack of hydration and unhealthy choice of beverages.
A large portion of the world lacks access to safe water and many diseases that adversely affect kidneys are water-borne.
Studies have shown that people drinking sodas on a daily basis have higher risk of developing some level of CKD. This is because soft drinks increase the level of protein in the urine, which is considered an early marker of kidney damage. By inviting everyone to raise a glass of water for their kidneys on World Kidney Day, we encourage everyone to make the healthy choice of drinking water instead of soft drinks.
Disclaimer: “Water may protect your kidneys, but it won’t cure from Chronic kidney disease”.
— Vidya Sury (@vidyasury) March 12, 2015