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National Kidney Month

March is National Kidney Month

How do your kidneys affect your health?
In addition to removing wastes and fluid from your body, your kidneys perform these other important jobs:

  • Control the water in your body and chemicals in your blood including sodium, potassium, phosphorus and calcium
  • Remove drugs and toxins that may have been put into your body
  • Free hormones into your blood to help your body:
    • Regulate blood pressure
    • Make red blood cells
    • Help make strong bones

What is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?
Chronic kidney disease means your kidneys have been damaged and cannot do their job properly. It is often an effect of another condition like diabetes or high blood pressure. When kidney disease progresses, it may eventually lead to kidney failure, which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain life. Luckily, early detection and treatment can often keep chronic kidney disease from getting worse.

What are the symptoms of CKD?
Most people with chronic kidney disease do not have severe symptoms right away. However, you may have:

  • Less energy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • A poor appetite
  • Problems sleeping
  • Swollen feet and ankles
  • Puffiness around your eyes, especially in the morning
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • The need to urinate more often, especially at night

How can you keep your CKD under control?
While there is no cure for CKD, there are ways to prevent the disease from progressing such as:

  • Having regular checkups by your doctor or clinic
  • Controlling your diabetes. Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure. It is important to keep your blood sugar levels as normal as possible.
  • Managing your blood pressure. Try to keep your blood pressure at 130/80 or less.
  • Lowering your trigylceride (a type of fat) and cholesterol levels. Having higher levels increases your risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Quitting smoking if, you are a smoker. If you smoke and have CKD you have a higher risk of dying from heart disease.
  • Losing excess weight by following a healthy diet and exercising regularly. This will help control your blood pressure and your blood sugar levels.
  • Staying away from over the counter pain-relieving medications. Always check with your doctor or clinic before using any of these medications because overuse can further harm the kidneys.

Members can learn more about kidney disease by logging in to hap.org/caretrack. While you are there, check out the other available tools, such as our CKD Checklist PDF and Action Plan PDF to help you manage your condition.

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