National Kidney Month is a time to raise awareness about kidney disease and, more importantly, how you can prevent it and get tested.

A staggering 37 million people in the United States are estimated to have kidney disease, with 9 in 10 individuals unaware they have chronic kidney disease (CKD). For this reason, you must take a proactive approach, caring for your kidneys now, before damage occurs. Taking steps towards optimal kidney health is especially important for those at high risk.

This guide covers everything you need to know about to protect your kidneys for years to come.

The Purpose of National Kidney Month

National Kidney Month is a time to learn, reflect, and take action. Kidney disease is the “silent killer” because it often shows no symptoms until the advanced stage. This lack of kidney awareness is precisely why National Kidney Month exists. 

On March 1, National Kidney Month begins, leading to World Kidney Day. This year, the global campaign falls on March 10th, focusing on kidney health for all. Considering kidney disease-related mortality continues to increase each year and is projected to be the fifth leading cause of death by 2040, now is the time to discover more about the knowledge gaps that exist. 

Additionally, ask yourself “Could I be doing more to take care of my kidneys? Is it possible my kidneys have already sustained damage? If so, what now?”

Kidney disease awareness month is bringing these questions to the forefront, and it’s saving lives.

Why National Kidney Month Matters?

Shining a light on kidney health is imperative, as this hardworking organ plays an active role in:

  • Regulating fluid levels 
  • Activating vitamin D for healthy bones 
  • Filtering waste from the blood 
  • Directing the production of red blood cells 
  • Regulating blood pressure 
  • Keeping blood minerals balanced 

Think of your kidneys as your body’s chemical factories. This critical organ filters waste, supporting everything from red blood cell production to blood pressure. Once your kidney becomes damaged, this can lead to many health complications, including nerve damage, kidney failure, cardiovascular disease, a potential health attack, stroke, and more. 

Your kidneys are crucial when aiming to maintain optimal health, which is why National Kidney Month matters. The more awareness surrounding kidney disease, the more lives can be saved through preventative and diagnostic measures. 

Recommended reading: Making Health a Priority in 2022

The Diagnosis and Treatment Process 

Some distinct symptoms may indicate diminishing kidney health, including painful urination, fatigue, blood in urine, and increased thirst. However, in most cases, little or no physical signs are apparent until the damage is done. As discussed, most people have no idea they are currently living with kidney disease, which is why it’s vital to consider the most significant risk factors, including:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure 
  • Family history 
  • Being over age 60

Since you will not likely showcase any symptoms of kidney disease before the advanced stage, testing is the only way to confirm how well your kidneys are working. For example, if you have diabetes, it is recommended that you get checked yearly. The sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner you can intervene. 

To test for kidney disease, healthcare providers use either a blood test to check how well your kidneys filter blood or a urine test to check for albumin, a protein that passes into urine following kidney damage. 

How to Prevent Chronic Kidney Disease 

For National Kidney Month, the National Kidney Foundation urges Americans to take five health steps toward optimal kidney function. The goal is to start small steps to ensure lasting healthy habits.

  1. Get tested: If any of the four risk factors above apply to you, ask your doctor to test you every year. You can also get screened for free through National Kidney Foundation’s KEEP Healthy program
  2. Reduce NSAIDs: Over-the-counter pain medications are common to alleviate aches and pains. However, they can also damage your kidneys. Reduce your regular use and do not take more than recommended on the label.
  3. Say no to processed foods: Diet is a significant variable to consider. Processed foods are packed full of phosphates, nitrates, and sodium; they increase your risk of kidney disease, heart disease, and other serious health conditions. Instead, stick to the DASH eating plan
  4. Exercise regularly: Staying active supports all organs and bodily systems, including your kidneys. It is recommended that you exercise at least 30 minutes daily.
  5. Control your blood pressure and diabetes: Diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of kidney disease and resulting kidney failure. Managing your blood sugar and blood pressure is crucial when maintaining optimal kidney health. 

Speak to your Envision healthcare provider about a plan that works for you. For some, that means quitting smoking or losing weight, and for others, it means introducing more stress-reducing activities. Making these changes will allow you to protect your kidneys, heart, and overall health. 

How Can Envision Help?

Envision Medical Group is a physician-driven network that focuses on high-quality, low-cost care. We offer dozens of services, including those provided by nephrology specialists.

If you’re ready to address your kidney health, schedule an appointment or call our office today at (248) 741-6909.