Kidney Disease Awareness Month this March

Image by Rovina Weermeijer on Unsplash

Kidney disease affects an estimated one in seven adults in the U.S., but there are steps people can take for prevention. Located just under the ribs, the kidneys regulate fluid levels, activate vitamin D for healthy bones, filter wastes from the blood, direct the production of red blood cells, regulate blood pressure and keep blood minerals in balance. Kidney disease occurs when the kidneys are damaged and unable to perform functions, as they can’t properly filter blood. Kidney disease can also cause nerve damage, cardiovascular disease, weak bones, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, kidney failure and anemia.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 90 percent of Americans who have chronic kidney disease will not realize it until the disease is in the advanced stages. For those who have diabetes, high blood pressure, family history or are at least 60 years old, have your doctors monitor blood pressure and kidney function during office visits. Other risk factors include smoking, obesity, cardiovascular disease, abnormal kidney structure and the use of medications that can damage the kidneys. If you do not have any high risk factors, you should still be aware of some of the possible symptoms: 

  • Swelling of your face, hands, abdomen, ankles or feet
  • Blood in urine
  • Foamy urine
  • Puffy eyes
  • Difficult, painful urination 
  • Increased thirst
  • Fatigue

If you feel you may have kidney disease, ask your doctor about a blood or urine test. The glomerular filtration rate measures blood creatinine levels to test how well the kidneys are removing waste. If you are uncomfortable getting your blood drawn, you can have your urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio tested. This estimates the amount of albumin expelled in your urine.

To raise awareness about ways to prevent kidney disease, the Bellevue College Health and Wellness BAS program will be hosting a virtual presentation from Sheila Barnett, registered nurse (RN), of Northwest Kidney Centers. The Kidney Awareness Month Virtual Event will be held synchronously over zoom on March 8 from 4 to 4:45 p.m. If you have more questions about this event, contact Rachel Lowe.