Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Kidney in Honor of National Kidney Month
March is recognized as National Kidney Month, and there is no better time to help seniors understand the risks and treatment for this disease. According to the National Kidney Foundation, kidney disease can develop at any age but people over the age of 60 more likely than not will develop the disease. Fellowship Square delves into more details about this disease and how it can be prevented.
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is leading the charge in the United States to raise awareness for this disease as well as advocate for prevention and treatment of kidney disease for the “hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals, millions of patients and their families and tens of millions of Americans at risk.” In an article on the Foundation’s website, it states that research from John Hopkins University estimates that “more than 50 percent of seniors over the age of 75 are believed to have kidney disease.” Part of this is simply due to age — as people age, so do their kidneys and therefore kidney function is lost.
The NKF notes that more than 30 million Americans are living with chronic kidney disease and don’t even know it. Risk factors including age, family history of kidney failure, prolonged use of certain over-the-counter pain medications, high-blood pressure, diabetes and kidney stones. Because the disease develops slowly over time and with few symptoms, it can go undetected until it reaches advances stages.
The first key to prevention, particularly for those at risk or with age as a factor, is detection so the NKF encourages people over the age of 6o to get screened for kidney disease, which can be done through a simple urine albumin test. Another way to test for kidney disease, and the best way to check kidney function, is through the Glomerular Filtration Rate, which tells how well the kidneys are working to remove waste from the blood.
Unfortunately, kidney disease may not get the recognition it deserves until it’s too late, and problem kidneys can lead to severe conditions such as kidney failure, high blood pressure, nerve damage, cardiovascular disease, and even heart attack or stroke. The best way to prevent or prolong kidney failure is through smart lifestyle choices including eating right (a low-salt, low-fat diet is suggested as well as following the USDA Chose My Plate guidelines), maintaining proper weight, and exercising on a regular basis (at least 30 minutes most days). Those that smoke or use tobacco should seriously consider quitting, and limited alcohol intake is another good choice to help prevent kidney disease.
Fellowship Square encourages seniors and their loved ones and caretakers to get tested for kidney disease. To learn more about prevention and maintenance for this disease, visit www.kidney.org.