Kidney disease is considered to be a “silent disease,” since it usually doesn’t have clear symptoms in its early stages. Up to 90 percent of Americans with chronic kidney disease (CKD) don’t know it.
March is National Kidney Month and the Kidney Foundation of Western New York is sharing information to help community members better understand and protect their health. Early identification and treatment may help to slow kidney damage and prevent health complications.
About one in seven people in the United States has CKD. Kidney disease can affect anyone, but diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading risk factors. Obesity, lupus, a family history of kidney disease, and high cholesterol all increase the likelihood that a person will develop kidney disease.
This year, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases is encouraging everyone to take the following steps to help protect their kidneys:
· Know Your Risk: Even if you feel healthy, if you are over 60 or have risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease, consider talking with your doctor about getting tested for kidney disease. Your doctor can use your test results to work with you to develop a kidney care plan. Having a plan may reduce your risk for serious health problems, like heart attack and stroke, and give you more healthy moments.
· Schedule Your Test: Your doctor will use two quick tests to check for kidney disease—a urine test to check for damage and a blood test to check how well your kidneys are removing wastes from your blood. If your kidneys show signs of damage, your doctor may refer you to a kidney specialist, called a nephrologist, or recommend annual or more frequent testing.
· Follow Your Kidney Health: Your doctor can work with you to create a treatment or monitoring plan that fits your lifestyle, mobility, health status, and dietary needs. Your plan may include managing your existing risk factors for kidney disease, collaborating with a registered dietician to create a meal plan, or getting help to quit smoking. Because chronic kidney disease is progressive, it is very important to continue to follow your kidney health and to update your care plan as needed.
The Kidney Foundation of Western New York provides a variety of services for people with kidney disease and their caregivers. The foundation can share information about diagnosis and treatment options, connect people to support groups, and has assistance programs for patients in need. The foundation also offers free community kidney health screenings and informational workshops. Details are available at kfwny.org and by calling the Kidney Foundation of WNY at 716-529-4390.