Understanding Kidney Disease

Mar 09, 2017Health Focus

“The leading causes of kidney failure are diabetes and high blood pressure.”

Given that March is National Kidney Month, what better time to learn what the kidneys do, facts about kidney disease, and steps you and your loved ones can take to prevent kidney failure.

Somewhere in Idaho today, someone is likely to begin treatment for end-stage renal disease, also known as kidney disease. Their kidneys will have gradually stopped working overtime. They will need dialysis treatments 3 times a week for 3 to 4 hours each time, just to stay alive.

Studies estimate that 26 million adults now suffer from chronic kidney disease, up from 20 million just a few years ago, and millions of others are at increased risk. Kidney disease often has no symptoms until the late stages—millions of Americans have kidney disease and don’t know it.

Everyone has two kidneys, each about the size of a fist, located on each side of the spine at the base of the rib cage. Every day, your kidneys process about 200 quarts of blood to sift out about two quarts of waste products and extra water. If your kidneys did not remove these wastes, they would build up in your blood and cause harm.

Your kidneys also regulate chemicals in your blood to make sure your body has the right balance of substances like sodium, phosphorus, and potassium. In addition, your kidneys produce hormones your body needs: erythropoietin, renin, and calcitriol. These hormones help your body make red blood cells, regulate blood pressure, and keep bones healthy.

According to the American Kidney Fund, approximately 1 of 3 adults with diabetes and 1 of 5 adults with high blood pressure will develop kidney disease. Kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the U.S. You may also be at a higher risk if you have a family history of kidney disease or are over age 60.

There are steps you can take to protect yourself and help prevent kidney disease. Lead a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly, eating well, drinking lots of water, and maintaining control of diabetes and high blood pressure. Early detection and treatment of chronic kidney disease are also keys to keeping kidney disease from progressing to kidney failure. Schedule regular check-ups with your doctor.

For the past 10 years, Idaho Kidney Institute in association with BMH has provided world-class nephrology and dialysis services to residents of Bingham County. If you or a loved one are concerned about the function of your kidneys, some simple tests can be done. Please call (208) 785-3800 to schedule an appointment with a nephrologist at the Idaho Kidney Institute in Blackfoot.