March 8 marks the seventh annual World Kidney Day. The purpose of the day is to raise awareness for this silent killer.
The rate of kidney disease is rising at an alarming rate in the U.S. due to the increases in heart disease and diabetes. Twenty-six million Americans live with chronic kidney disease and millions more are at risk.
Each year in the U.S. there are 16,000 kidney transplants–even though the waiting list for these transplants is growing and 90,000 people are currently listed. Four thousand people a year die while waiting for a kidney transplant because of the short supply of donors.
What can you do about chronic kidney disease?
- Know the symptoms. Most people may not have any severe symptoms until their kidney disease is advanced. However, you may notice that you:
- feel more tired and have less energy
- have trouble concentrating
- have a poor appetite
- have trouble sleeping
- have muscle cramping at night
- have swollen feet and ankles
- have puffiness around your eyes, especially in the morning
- have dry, itchy skin
- need to urinate more often, especially at night
- have diabetes
- have high blood pressure
- have a family history of chronic kidney disease
- are older
- belong to a population group that has a high rate of diabetes or high blood pressure, such as African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian, Pacific Islanders, and American Indians
- Estimated GFR number
- GFR, or glomerular filtration rate, tells you how well your kidneys are doing their job of filtering the blood. A GFR number over 60 is considered normal and a GFR number under 60 may mean you have kidney disease. Talk to your doctor about your numbers.
- Blood pressure reading
- High blood pressure leads to kidney disease. Normal blood pressure is 120/80. If the upper number is over 140 and the lower number is above 90, your blood pressure is too high.
- Urine albumin or urine albumin to creatinine ratio
- Urine albumin or urine albumin to creatinine ratio estimates the amount of protein found in your urine in a day. Protein in the urine is one of the earliest signs of kidney disease.
- Total cholesterol
- If your cholesterol numbers are over 200, you may be at risk for heart disease.
- Blood glucose check
- This test checks for diabetes, the leading cause of kidney failure. Talk to your doctor about your numbers.