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What can you do to keep your kidneys healthy?

Aiesha Banks • Mar 6, 2020 at 7:30 AM

Let us march right on to National Kidney Month.

March is National Kidney Month. This month Healthy Kingsport would like to raise awareness about the prevention and early detection of kidney disease. High blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity are risk factors for chronic kidney disease. Eating healthy, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight help prevent chronic kidney disease.

What is kidney disease?

Damaged kidneys are kidneys that cannot filter blood the way they should. Some people have no symptoms at all and are diagnosed by a lab test. Chronic kidney disease is the most common form of kidney disease — slow and progressive loss of kidney function over several years. More than 10,000 people in Tennessee have end-stage renal disease, and the number affected grows by 10% annually. Chronic kidney disease, also known as chronic renal failure, chronic renal disease, or chronic kidney failure, is much more widespread than people realize; it often goes undetected and undiagnosed until the disease is well advanced.

According to the National Kidney Foundations, southern states make up the top 10 list of those hardest hit by kidney failure. Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee are among the highest in the US. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 8% of the population in each of these states also have diagnosed diabetes, the leading cause of kidney disease.

“These states have high rates of obesity and physical inactivity. Multiple chronic diseases are highly prevalent in this geographic area, also known as the ‘stroke belt.’ Yet healthy diet combined with physical activity to maintain a healthy body weight could change the levels of kidney failure,” said Joseph Vassalotti, MD, National Kidney Foundation Chief Medical Officer.


Common symptoms include blood in urine, high blood pressure and fatigue.

There is no cure for chronic kidney disease, which means treatment focused on reducing symptoms. Diagnosis commonly occurs after blood tests, kidney scans, or biopsy. Reduce the risk of complications and slow the progression of the disease. In most cases, kidney damage is the result of chronic diseases, such as diabetes types 1 and 2, and hypertension (high blood pressure).

If chronic kidney disease progresses to kidney failure, the following complications are possible. Anemia, central nervous system damage, fluid retention, hyperkalemia, and possibly resulting in heart damage, these are just a few complications.

Protect Yourself

Controlling the condition can significantly reduce the chances of developing kidney failure.

Physical activity is excellent! Sit less and stand more. Recent research has linked sitting for 8 hours or more a day with developing kidney disease. Exercise and lose weight. Diabetes is responsible for 44% of all new cases of kidney failure. Obesity and type 2 diabetes are on the rise and can often be treated and reversed with physical activity and weight loss. Try to avoid long term use of kidney-toxic drugs such as over the counter (OTC) pain medications, NSAIDS, such as ibuprofen. Get tested! Ask your healthcare provider for an annual urine test to check for protein in the urine, one of the earliest signs of kidney disease, and a blood test for creatinine to calculate your estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). GFR tells how well your kidneys are working to remove wastes from your blood. Individuals should follow their doctor’s instructions, advice, and recommendations.

Other healthy choices are eating a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats or fish will help keep blood pressure down. Regular physical exercise is ideal for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels; it also helps control chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

• Many other higher risk factors develop kidney disease, such as;

• A family history of kidney disease

• Age, common among people over 60,

• Overexposure to some toxins and some medications.

Early detection can significantly help prevent severe kidney damage. People who are at high risk of developing kidney disease must have their kidney functions regularly checked. Be you are on advocate, take care of your kidneys so they can take care of you.

Healthy Kingsport’s mission is to create a sustainable community culture of healthy living by promoting awareness, influencing policy, and enhancing infrastructure. The organization’s vision is a community where healthy living is the norm.

For more information, visit the following websites.


Aiesha Banks is the Executive Director of Healthy Kingsport. She can be reached at abanks@healthykingsport.org

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