Did you know March is Kidney Awareness Month?

The Urology Care Foundation, the official foundation of the American Urological Association, is calling on the public to commit to the health of their kidneys – especially during COVID-19 –  by taking a pledge and sharing it with others at www.urologyhealth.org/kidneyhealth.

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 your waist. Their primary job is to cleanse your blood of toxins or waste and filter it out of your body through your urine. They also help make red blood cells, maintain a balance of salt and other nutrients in your body, keep your bones healthy and help to control your blood pressure, according to a news release.

By the Numbers

1 in 3 American adults is at risk for kidney disease. Kidney disease is known as the “silent epidemic” because it 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 family history. Older adults, Hispanics, African Americans, and American Indians are at a higher risk for developing kidney disease.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, there have been reports of nonelderly adults infected with COVID-19 who have developed an acute kidney injury (AKI) — sudden loss of kidney function. These adults did not have underlying medical conditions. With proper treatment, including dialysis in severe cases, AKI can be reversible, the news release added.

A few simple ways to keep your kidneys safe and functioning properly include:

  • Keep active and fit
  • Control blood sugar
  • Monitor blood pressure
  • Monitor weight and eat healthily
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Stop smoking
  • Have kidney function tested if at high risk

“Your kidneys take care of you every day by cleaning your blood. Take the pledge to take care of your kidneys by making positive changes in your daily routine that will help keep your kidneys healthy,” said Harris M. Nagler, MD, President of the Urology Care Foundation in the news release. “If you are at risk for kidney stones, cancer, or disease, talk to your doctor about lifestyle and dietary changes you can make to help catch certain conditions at an early stage or to prevent them altogether.”

Kidney Stones: Kidney stones are the reason for more than 500,000 emergency department visits per year.  A kidney stone is a hard object that is made from chemicals in the urine. Common symptoms include severe pain in the lower back, blood in your urine, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills, or urine that smells bad or looks cloudy. Both adults and children as young as 5 years old can get kidney stones.

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.

Kidney Cancer:  About 76,000 new cases of kidney cancer will be diagnosed and approximately 13,800 people will die from this disease in 2021.  Kidney cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the kidney when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. The average age of people when they are diagnosed is 64. Kidney cancer is about twice as common in men than in women and it is more common in African Americans and American Indian /Alaska Natives.

In observance of Kidney Health Awareness Month, the Urology Care Foundation encourages the public to learn their risk factors for kidney disease and other kidney-related conditions and download free educational materials at www.urologyhealth.org.

Source: American Urological Association and Urology Care Foundation