Tips for Preventing Chronic Kidney Disease
Grace Weatherby
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2024

Tips for Preventing Chronic Kidney Disease

Much like your heart, your kidneys never get a break. In fact, your kidneys work 24/7 filtering every ounce of your blood up to 25 times a day. That’s a lot of work for two tiny bean-sized organs.

The process of filtering your blood works to maintain your overall health by regulating your body’s salt, potassium, and acid content. In addition, your kidneys play a crucial role in fluid balance, releasing hormones to regulate blood pressure, removing drugs from the body, controlling the production of red blood cells, and producing vitamin D to promote strong bones.

Unfortunately, kidneys aren’t foolproof.

An estimated 37 million Americans have chronic kidney diseases (CKD), a result of the kidneys losing their ability to function properly. CKD can progress quickly or may take many years to develop. In the earliest stages the symptoms are very mild; so mild in fact that 90% of people with CKD don’t know it until it is progressed to advanced stage. CKD’s ability to sneak up on someone has rightfully earned it a reputation as a ‘silent killer.’ The only way to diagnose and catch CKD early is through regular annual exams with your primary care doctor including standard bloodwork that can reveal if your kidneys are functioning properly or not.

Without regular bloodwork, your kidney function may continue to decline undetected to the point of failure, at which point dialysis or a kidney transplant is needed to stay alive. 

The National Kidney Foundation estimates 1 in 3 U.S. adults in the U.S. is at risk for kidney disease. 

Certain risk factors that contribute to CKD include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Family history of kidney failure
  • Being age 60 or older
  • Obesity
  • Past damage to kidneys
  • Being in minority populations that have high rates of diabetes or high blood pressure (Black/African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders, and American Indians or Alaska Natives)

But having any of these risk factors isn’t a guarantee you’ll develop CKD. This is especially true if you take steps to protect your kidneys by preventing or managing health conditions and risk factors.

Among the most important steps you can take are:

Manage any chronic conditions.

If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease, stay on top of your condition and take all medications as prescribed. If you’re struggling to keep your condition in check, talk to your doctor about support or education programs.

Eat a healthy diet.

Choose foods that are healthy for your heart and your entire body. This includes fresh fruits, fresh or frozen vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Whenever possible, opt for low-salt and low-sugar options. If you need help changing your eating habits, the DASH eating plan is a good place to start.

If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease, contact your healthcare provider to discuss working with a nutritionist to create a meal plan that meets your needs.

Get plenty of sleep.

Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. For tips on getting a better night’s sleep, click here.

Stop smoking.

If you smoke or use other tobacco products, stop. Click here to learn more about support groups and programs, as well as medications, that may help you quit smoking.

Do you know your risk?
To learn if you are one of the 33% of adults in the U.S. who is at risk for kidney disease.

 

Ruth Rudnick, RN,BSN,CNN is the director of renal services at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.

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