/ by UK HealthCare
March is National Kidney Month and the perfect time to pay some extra attention to one of your body’s hardest-working organs.
Here are five things everyone should know about their kidneys, including tips to keep yours healthy.
1. Know your kidneys’ role.
Kidneys regulate fluid levels, filter waste and toxins from the blood, regulate blood pressure and maintain healthy bones, play a key role in making red blood cells, and help balance minerals in the blood. (The kidneys filter 120 to 150 quarts of blood each day.) Kidneys that aren’t working well can contribute to cardiovascular disease, heart attack and nerve damage.
2. Consider your risk for kidney disease.
You are at high risk for kidney disease if you or your relatives have or have had diabetes, high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease. African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders are at an elevated risk.
3. Recognize the symptoms of kidney disease.
Foamy urine or pink, dark urine (which might be a sign of blood in the urine), along with difficulty or pain during urination, can indicate problems. Additionally, if you’re fatigued, more thirsty than usual, and have puffy eyes and/or swollen face, hands, abdomen, ankles or feet, you should talk to your doctor.
4. Have yourself tested.
Your doctor can test for high blood pressure, protein in the urine, creatinine (a waste product from the muscles) in the blood, and a low glomerular filtration rate (a measurement of how much blood passes through tiny filters in the kidneys). The results of these tests can tell you more about your risk for kidney disease.
5. Stay fit.
Good overall health is the primary way to keep kidney disease away. Regular exercise, drinking plenty of water (three to four pints a day is recommended) and quitting smoking all help. The DASH diet is a good starting point for eating well – cutting down on processed foods such as fast food, white bread, potato chips, breakfast cereals and cakes and pastries also helps.