March 1 marks the beginning of National Kidney Month, a time to raise awareness about your kidney health and generate support for those affected by such conditions as kidney stones, kidney infections and kidney disease. It’s also a time when the Urology Care Foundation, the nation’s leading nonprofit urological health foundation, encourages the public to make direct, positive and healthy changes in their lives to keep their kidneys healthy and happy.
The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs that are about the size of a small fist and sit on each side of the spine, above the waist. Their primary job is to clean the blood and produce urine to rid the body of waste. They also help make red blood cells, maintain a balance of salt and other nutrients in your body, keep your bones healthy and help control your blood pressure.
Your kidneys can become damaged with little to no warning. Kidney disease is known as the “silent epidemic” because if often shows no signs until it is more advanced. High blood pressure and diabetes are two leading causes of kidney disease. Other risk factors include heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol and a family history. Older adults, Hispanics, African-Americans and American Indians are at a higher risk for developing kidney disease.
“Most people don’t realize how important the kidneys are to our well-being, which is why it’s important to look after them,” said Richard A. Memo, MD chair of the Urology Care Foundation. “If you are at risk for kidney disease, talk to your doctor about having your kidney function checked as this disease is one that can be prevented or slowed down if caught early.”
A few simple ways to keep the kidney happy and healthy:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Not smoking
- Eating a healthy diet
- Keeping your weight in check
- Staying fit and active
- Monitoring and keeping regular control of your blood pressure and sugar levels
Other common kidney-related health issues include kidneys stones and kidney infections.
- Kidney Stones:
One in 10 Americans will develop a kidney stone at some point in their lifetime and are the reason for more than 1 million emergency department visits per year. In fact, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veteran Matt Mitrione was pulled from a highly anticipated fight last month due to kidney stones, which he needed surgically removed. Other famous names associated with kidney stones include Billy Joel, Tim Burton, Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Joel, Roger Moore, William Shatner and Gene Simmons.
- Kidney Infections:
Approximately 200,000 kidney infections are diagnosed each year and are often due to a specific type of urinary tract infection (UTI) that begins in the urethra or bladder and travels to the kidneys. Symptoms may include fever, frequent urination and pain in the back, side or groin, and they are often treated with antibiotics.
If you have questions or concerns about your kidneys, or any urology-related conditions, please contact the Urology Group of Princeton (609.924.6487) to schedule a consultation.