March is National Kidney Health Month
Kidney disease is unfortunately common in the United States, with estimates that 1 in 7 adults have the condition. Even more, 1 in 3 adults are at risk for the disease that leads to fatigue, trouble sleeping, dry skin, urinary problems, swollen hands and feet, and muscle cramping. Untreated kidney disease can eventually lead to kidney failure and death.
For people diagnosed with kidney disease, their primary diagnoses were either diabetes or hypertension (high blood pressure). These two conditions are often found together with many other health problems and can affect many systems in the body. The best course of action for kidney health is prevention. Keep your kidneys healthy by following these lifestyle guidelines:
- Hydration. Staying hydrated is crucial to kidney health. A quick assessment of urine color (it should be light) will show you if you're staying hydrated. (Please remember though that supplements and certain foods can affect urine color though, so if you have any questions, please consult your doctor.) It is important to remember to stay hydrated all the time, but especially in hot/dry weather and when exercising.
- Nutrition. Getting a properly balanced diet full of vitamins and minerals and not consuming too much salt and fat is good for your kidney health. Remember to eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, good sources of lean protein, and complex grains for best health.
- Monitor your blood pressure. If you are experiencing high blood pressure, talk to a doctor to see what lifestyle changes or medication can be added to help maintain ideal blood pressure.
- Do not smoke and watch your alcohol intake. Alcohol and smoking can raise your blood pressure which puts a strain on your kidneys and heart. If you drink, consume alcohol in moderation.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is a contributing factor in many health concerns such as high blood pressure and diabetes, both which are common precursors to kidney disease.
If the prevention and lifestyle changes are maintained, the chances of going into kidney failure are dramatically reduced. However, once a person experiences kidney failure, dialysis or a kidney transplant is required. Dialysis is a lengthy procedure requiring 3-4 visits a week to a dialysis center (or home dialysis treatment), that removes the waste from the blood. The other alternative is a kidney transplant, and sadly, there are thousands of people on the kidney transplant waiting list.
If you have questions or concerns about your kidney health, please consult your doctor. If you are obese and are considering a bariatric procedure, research has shown that bariatric surgeries are effective at lowering weight, improving blood pressure, and mitigating the effects of diabetes, all factors that are important for kidney health.
Keeping your kidneys healthy. (2018). Retrieved 7 March 2022, from https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/keeping-your-kidneys-healthy/
10 Signs You May Have Kidney Disease. (2020). Retrieved 7 March 2022, from https://www.kidney.org/news/ekidney/august14/10_Signs_You_May_Have_Kidney_Disease
Kidney Disease: The Basics. (2021). Retrieved 7 March 2022, from https://www.kidney.org/news/newsroom/fsindex#:~:text=1%20in%203%20adults%20in,of%20death%20in%20the%20U.S.
Chang, A., Grams, M., & Navaneethan, S. (2017). Bariatric Surgery and Kidney-Related Outcomes. Kidney International Reports, 2(2), 261-270. doi: 10.1016/j.ekir.2017.01.010