National Kidney Month: Rare factors of kidney disease

VIRGINIA – March 1 kicks off National Kidney Month.

An estimated 37 million Americans have chronic kidney disease and most of them don’t even know they have it.

A person can lose up to 60 percent of their kidney function before noticing any health problems.

We’re sharing how to keep your kidneys healthy and explaining why knowing your risk factors is critical.

It’s known as a silent killer because many people with chronic kidney disease don’t feel sick until it progresses to an advanced stage.

“Oftentimes, people don’t develop symptoms until very late in the course of their disease,” said Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers, Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

That’s why Dr. Rodgers says knowing your risk factors is so important. Those include conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, a family history of kidney disease, and heart disease.

If you have one or more of these conditions, ask your doctor to test you for kidney disease.

“There are two simple tests. One is a blood test to determine how well your kidneys are filtering the blood. And the second test is a urine test to see whether there’s any protein in the urine, which could be another indication that that filtering process is somehow altered,” said Dr. Rodgers.

Rodgers says early detection allows for earlier intervention that can help slow the disease’s progression, but research is currently being done to better diagnose and treat it.

“Ultimately, we’d like to reverse the disease and in fact, even cure the disease.”

You can also help keep your kidneys healthy by being active, choosing healthier foods, getting adequate sleep, not smoking, and limiting alcohol.

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