March is National Kidney Awareness Month; a great time to give some thought to your kidneys, along with a well-deserved checkup.
Your kidneys, two fist-sized organs located in the lower back, maintain overall health by…
- Filtering waste from over 50 gallons of blood every day.
- Regulating the body’s salt, potassium and acid content.
- Removing drugs from the body.
- Balancing the body’s fluids.
- Releasing hormones that regulate blood pressure.
- Producing an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones.
- Controlling the production of red blood cells.
However, while performing those amazing functions in the body, kidneys are also prone to disease. In fact, 1 in 3 Americans are at risk for kidney disease due to diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of kidney failure. Kidney disease is the 9th leading cause of death in the country. More than 30 million Americans already have kidney disease and, unfortunately, many don’t know it because there are often no symptoms until the disease has progressed. It’s, therefore, very important to get tested annually; early detection and treatment can slow or prevent the progression of kidney disease.
There are two tests to determine the health of the kidneys:
- Urine Test – Urine is tested for the presence of albumin, a type of protein. While your body certainly needs protein, it should be in your blood, not your urine. Having protein in your urine may mean that your kidneys are not filtering your blood well enough, which can be a sign of early kidney disease. If your urine test comes back “positive” for protein, the test will be repeated; three positive results, over three months or more, is a sign of kidney disease.
- Blood Test – Blood is tested for a waste product called creatinine, which comes from muscle tissue. When the kidneys are damaged, they have trouble removing creatinine from your blood. The result of this test is entered into a math formula, along with your age, race, and sex, to find out your glomerular filtration rate (GFR). The GFR result is a measure of how well your kidneys are working.
Kidney disease risk can be reduced by controlling blood pressure and blood sugar, maintaining proper weight, not smoking, exercising regularly, and avoiding excessive use of medications that can harm the kidneys, such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
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.