Few people give their kidneys a second thought. They’re just another organ working inside our body. In reality, kidneys work for us at all times to keep the body healthy by filtering toxins and extra fluid. They also help control blood pressure, make red blood cells, and keep our bones strong.
Kidneys have an essential job in keeping us healthy. And yet, chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects an estimated 37 million people in the US and approximately 90 percent of those with kidney disease don’t know they have it. An estimated one in three adults, about 80 million people, are at risk for kidney disease, and it is among the leading causes of death in the US.
For over 40 years, the nonprofit Puget Sound Kidney Centers (PSKC) has been a leading provider of high quality, comprehensive dialysis care, social services, nutritional counselling, and health education to those affected by CKD.
PSKC provides dialysis care to approximately 800-900 patients annually, and does so in 11 centers in six counties, at home, and in area hospitals. Additionally, PSKC has five more kidney centers being built in various parts of western Washington.
“People with End Stage Renal Disease, or kidney failure, experience many challenges. Through awareness and education, we’re working to reduce the number of people who lose the function of their kidneys,” says Kathy Harvey, Director of Renal Nutritional Services at PSKC. “And that’s why PSKC pays for a large portion of this expense, and we have also partnered with community funders to create a free education program designed to give people the tools and support they need to manage their kidney health and prevent the progression of their CKD.”
You can take action to prevent kidney disease. Here are eight things to help keep your kidneys healthy:
- Have your kidneys checked regularly.
- Work with your doctor to control your blood pressure.
- If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar within your goal range.
- If you drink soda, limit the number of servings or eliminate it. Drinking two or more sodas a day increases your risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
- Check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, and Aleve.
- Keep your salt intake low. Eating more than 2,000mg of sodium per day can harm your kidneys. High salt diets increase blood pressure.
- Exercise! Exercising and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce high blood pressure. Using muscles helps keep kidneys healthy.
- Don’t smoke. If you smoke, quit. Smoking limits blood flow to your vital organs, including kidneys.
You can learn more about kidney health at PSKC free community education programs and the Survive and Thrive with Chronic Disease Program at pskc.net/for-patients/classes.
For more information on preventing or managing kidney disease, check out:
2. What is Chronic Kidney Disease