Raising awareness about kidneys

By Dr. Josh Palgi

World Kidney Day is a global health awareness campaign focusing on the importance of the kidneys, reducing the frequency and impact of kidney disease, and its associated health problems worldwide. World Kidney Day is a joint initiative of the International Society of Nephrology and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations.

The kidneys are bean shaped organs that serve essential regulatory roles in the urinary system and also serve homeostatic functions, such as the regulation of electrolytes, maintenance of acid-base balance and regulation of blood pressure (via maintaining salt and water balance). The kidneys serve the body as a natural filter of the blood and remove wastes, which are diverted to the urinary bladder. The kidneys also produce hormones including calcitriol, ethropoiefin, and the enzyme renin.

The two kidneys are located in the abdominal cavity,  one on either side of the spine. Each adult kidney weighs between 125 and 175 grams in males between 115 and 155 grams in females. The kidney is approximately 11-14 cm in length, 6 cm wide and 4 cm thick.

The prevalence of kidney disease is increasing dramatically and the cost of treating this growing epidemic represents an enormous burden on healthcare systems worldwide. Between 8 and 10 % of the adult population have some form of kidney damage and every year millions die prematurely of complications related to chronic kidney disease.

Take the test—www.checkmykidney.org.au to see if you ate at increased risk.

Results: The kidney plays a major role in maintaining your general health and well being. Maintaining or adapting healthy lifestyle behaviors like healthy
eating, exercise, drinking alcohol in moderation and reducing stress are very important in looking after your kidneys.

Q1:    Do you have Diabetes!
A1:    Diabetes is one of the leading causes of kidney disease

Q2:     Do you have high blood pressure?
A2:    High blood pressure affects the kdineys by putting more stress on the blood vessels throughout the body, including the kidney filter.

Q3:     Do you smoke?
A3:     People who smoke are three times more likely to have reduced kidney function than people who don’t smoke.

Q4:     Have you ever had a heart attack, a stroke or been told you have heart failure?
A4:     A history of cardiovascular disease significantly increases the risk of developing kidney disease.

Q5:     Are you overweight or obese?
A5:     Being obese increases your risk of developing kidney disease

Q6:    Is there a family history of kidney disease?
A6:     Kidney disease may run in families and even if only one person in a family has kidney failures, all blood relatives should be tested for kidney disease.

The golden rules to keep your kidneys healthy are:
Keep fit and active
Keep regular control of your blood sugar levels, blood lipids and anaemia
Monitor blood pressure, reduce if necessary
Eat healthy and keep your weight in check
Do not smoke
Do not take over the counter pills on a regular basis

Common drugs such non-steroidal steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen, are known to cause kidney damage and disease if taken regularly. Such medications probably do not pose significant danger if you use them for emergencies only and if your kidneys are relatively healthy. If you are dealing with chronic pain such as arthritis or back pain, work with your doctor to find a way to control your pain without putting your kidneys at risk.

Mission Statement:
The mission of World Kidney Day is to raise awareness of the importance of our kidneys to our overall health and to reduce the frequency and impact of
kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide.

The Objectives of World Kidney Day:
Raise awareness about our “amazing kidneys”
Highlight that diabetes and high blood pressure are key risk factors for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
Encourage systematic screening of all patients with diabetes and hypertension for CKD
Encourage preventive behaviors
Educate all medical professionals about their key role in detecting and reducing the risk of CKD, particularly in high risk populations
Stress the important role of local and national health authorities in controlling the CKD epidemic. Encourage Transplantation as a best-outcome option for kidney failure, and the act of organ donation as a life-saving initiative.

During the day, the National Kidney Foundation
offers the following health activities:  

Free Screenings: On World Kidney Day and throughout the Month of March, NKF is offering free screenings to those most at risk for kidney disease – anyone with diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of kidney failure. Locations and information can be found on the calendar on our website.

‘Are You at Risk’ Kidney Quiz: Early detection can make a difference in preventing kidney disease so it’s important to know if you’re at risk. Take the online kidney quiz!

Live Twitter Chat with Dr. Joseph Vassalotti: The National Kidney Foundation’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joseph Vassalotti, will be hosting an interactive kidney Q&A on World Kidney Day,Thursday, March 14, from 12-2 pm ET. Ask your questions at www.twitter.com/nkf using the hash-tag #WorldKidneyDayNKF

Ask the Dietitian: Dietitian Melissa Altman-Traub, MS, RD, CSR, LDN, will be answering questions all month about diet and what to eat to keep your kidneys healthy.

The National Kidney Foundation is the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease. For more information you can call the organization at 1-800-622-9010, and they are located at 30 East 33rd Street, New York, NY 10016

Dr. Palgi is a professor in Kean’s Physical Education, Recreation & Health Department.

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