The March 2018 issue of Wellness for Generations newsletter brings…new office, new doctor and new technology! The first article, in its entirety below, discusses kidney disease and the signs you need to look for as possible warnings.
Kidney What? The Warning Signs of Kidney Disease
Kidneys aren’t something you often think about unless you’re considering the shape of your swimming pool or making a batch of chili. But these weird-looking organs do a lot more than you think. With one in three adults at risk for kidney disease, it’s important to know the signs. During National Kidney Monthin March, educate yourself about these essential organs.
What Kidneys Do
Kidneys are known for their bean shape. We are born with two, and each one is about the size of a fist. Kidneys operate as a filter, each day cycling through 120 to 150 quarts of blood and producing urine, which later ends up in your bladder for storage. The kidneys keep your blood stable and prevent the buildup of waste and extra fluid in your body. They also produce hormones that help regulate your blood pressure, make red blood cells, and keep your bones strong.
Signs of Disease
If your kidneys stop filtering out electrolytes and other waste, that fluid builds up in your body. “Chronic kidney disease” refers to the gradual loss of kidney function. At first, you may not realize you have kidney problems. Plus, kidneys are adaptable and often compensate for lost function, meaning you could have irreversible damage before you experience anything abnormal. Keep an eye out for these signs and symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue and weakness
- Sleep problems
- Changes in how much you urinate
- Decreased mental sharpness
- Muscle twitches and cramps
- Swelling of feet and ankles
- Persistent itching
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- High blood pressure (hypertension) that’s difficult to control
Some health conditions are apt to lead to kidney disease, including diabetes, other kidney-related illnesses, high blood pressure, kidney stones, or prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract. Kidney disease also occurs more often in those who are obese and smokers as well as those with a family history. African-Americans, Native Americans, and Asian-Americans have a higher risk as well.
Kidney disease may be caused by other factors, such as high blood pressure. Before you can treat the kidneys, your doctor will work to control what’s causing the problem. Further treatments work to prevent further damage and maintain kidney function and may include medications as well as some lifestyle changes. If the kidneys continue to fail, you’ll receive dialysis or a kidney transplant. Dialysis is a way of artificially doing the kidneys’ job — removing waste.
How to be a Kidney Donor
Register with the DMV to be an organ donor after you die. Your gift could save multiple lives. Meanwhile, if you know someone with kidney disease, it may be possible for you to help by donating one of your kidneys. Your body will continue to function normally with just one kidney. You might also choose to donate to a stranger. More than 123,000 people are listed for an organ transplant nationwide; more than 101,000 need a kidney. If you are interested in donating, you can learn more about living donation from the National Kidney Foundation or UNOS.
Contact your doctor at Generations Family Practice if you have any concerns about your kidney health.