Our kidneys play a very important role in keeping our bodies in equilibrium. They perform several essential functions including filtering waste products, eliminating excess fluid, producing hormones to help control blood pressure, and more. While it is possible to live a relatively normal life with only one kidney, losing both will require patients to undergo daily dialysis treatments to replace their function. Every year in March, we observe National Kidney Month to raise awareness about the importance of these essential organs and how to keep them healthy for a lifetime.

What is kidney disease?
Kidney disease is a general term that usually refers to chronic kidney disease, or CKD. This condition impairs the organs over time, with loss of function occurring gradually. Damage to our filtration system can cause waste buildup in the body, causing significant issues like heart disease, blood vessel disease, high blood pressure, weakening bones, and more.
Total loss of function is known as kidney failure, which requires immediate medical intervention and regular dialysis treatments to filter the blood. Once a patient begins dialysis treatment, they may be placed on the transplantation list depending on their condition. People who have diabetes, existing heart disease, or a family history of CKD are at increased risk for developing kidney disease. If you’ve been diagnosed with kidney disease, making some lifestyle changes can increase the lifespan of these essential organs.

What are the symptoms of CKD?
Since the kidneys lose function over time, people with early stages of CKD may not experience any abnormal symptoms. As the disease progresses and function declines, symptoms become more apparent. People with CKD may experience fluid retention, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, loss of appetite, chest pain, muscle cramps, high blood pressure, increased or decreased urination, fatigue, anemia, bone disease, and malnutrition. Sudden changes in kidney function may also occur, known as acute kidney injury.

What can I do to prevent kidney disease?
You can prevent kidney disease by making lifestyle changes like getting regular exercise, quitting smoking, and making healthy food choices. It is recommended to reduce sodium and sugar intake. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease, managing your condition with your doctor can help to protect kidney function.

At Roger’s Family Pharmacy, we know that prevention is key to maintaining overall health and wellness. We strongly recommend you talk with your primary care physician about the ways you can help to keep your kidneys healthy. If you think you may be at risk for kidney disease, talk with your doctor about any necessary screening or testing. Visit the National Kidney Foundation website at www.kidney.org, or you may also consult your local pharmacist at Roger’s Family Pharmacy at (601) 582-8351 for additional information.