March is National Kidney Month, and that makes it the ideal time to learn about kidney health and how to protect your own kidneys. Chronic kidney disease is on the rise in the U.S., thanks in part to the increase in obesity levels and the aging population. Each year, about 400,000 people use dialysis, a medical treatment that can help them keep their kidneys functioning properly, and nearly 20,000 undergo kidney transplant. The need for dialysis and other interventions has risen steadily, which makes it critically important to do all you can to maintain kidney health.
The National Kidney Foundation offers these eight tips for keeping your kidneys as healthy as possible:
- Get some exercise, and eat right. Exercise improves circulation to help keep your kidneys healthy, and it can also help you lose weight to reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Reduce your sodium intake (read those labels!), eat low-fat protein sources, and make sure you get the right amounts of potassium and phosphorous.
- Control your weight. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the perks of the first tip, exercising and eating right. Lowering your weight to a healthy level reduces your risk of diabetes, which in turn helps protect your kidneys.
- Have an annual physical. Seeing your doctor regularly is the best way to spot signs of kidney disease in their earliest and most treatable stages.
- Watch those over-the-counter painkillers. Talk to your doctor about the potentially damaging effects these and other over-the-counter products like vitamins and supplements can have on your kidneys.
- Know your family health history. Kidney disease runs in families, which means if you have a close family member with the disease, you may be more likely to develop kidney problems yourself. Knowing your family health history can help your doctor understand your risk factors so he or she can keep an eye on your kidney health – and help you avoid the need for dialysis.
- Don’t smoke (and stop if you do), and only drink alcohol in moderation. Both tobacco and alcohol can put a strain on the kidneys, and tobacco can interfere with circulation that supplies kidneys with oxygen and nutrients.
- Learn all you can about kidney disease to improve your kidney (and overall) health and reduce your risk for chronic kidney disease. The National Kidney Foundation and National Kidney Disease Education Program websites are great places to start.
- If you’re at risk for chronic kidney disease, talk to your doctor about getting tested for signs of kidney disease. Regular monitoring is the best way to keep your kidneys healthy.
Ensuring that your health insurance provides the right type of coverage is also important. Give us a call today at (209) 847-3065 to review your policy so you can be sure your medical coverage is comprehensive and up to date.