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Importance of Kidney Health

Published: 02/23/21

Your kidneys are the bean-shaped organs that help the body filter fluids and waste out of blood and produce urine. These are essential functions for maintaining your overall health. That’s why it’s so important to keep your kidneys healthy, such as by managing chronic health conditions, making healthy lifestyle choices and working with a doctor to monitor risk factors.  

Many conditions can affect the kidneys. Some are temporary. Others may be long-lasting and more serious. 

Kidney Stones 

Kidney stones are a common, though uncomfortable occurrence. They may occur when certain minerals clump in the kidneys and must pass through the urinary tract. Smaller kidney stones may pass without notice, while larger kidney stones can be extremely painful.  

The southeastern United States has an unusually high incidence of kidney stones – so much so that the region is often referred to as the “kidney stone belt.” The urologists at Meadows Health treat a lot of them. The good news for our patients is that our urologists are also very successful at treating them. 

Kidney Infections and Injuries 

Like any part of the body, the kidneys are also susceptible to infections and injuries. Infections or injuries may affect the kidneys directly or my originate in other parts of the body and spread to them. Certain medications can also trigger kidney injuries.  

These situations sometimes can be severe, requiring immediate treatment to minimize damage to the kidneys. 

Chronic Kidney Disease 

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) occurs when the kidneys are damaged and unable to function properly. The damage typically occurs over a long period of time and may be associated with certain health conditions that put stress and strain on the kidneys. 

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) estimates that CKD affects: 

  • More than 30 million American adults  
  • Almost 1 in 3 people with diabetes  
  • 1 in 5 adults with high blood pressure 

Kidney disease also runs in families. So, it’s important to discuss whether a parent, sibling or other family member has had CKD. 

Chronic kidney disease is usually progressive, which means it gets worse over time, especially if it’s untreated. The good news is there are steps you can take to help manage the condition and keep kidneys working for as long as possible.  

Kidney Failure/ESRD 

Kidney failure, also known as end-stage renal disease (ESRD), is the last stage of CKD. In this stage, kidney function has become so poor that the patient requires dialysis or a kidney transplant. While a diagnosis of ESRD can be shocking, many patients go on to live long lives on dialysis or after a kidney transplant.  

Protecting Kidney Health 

Of course, the best approach for beating kidney disease is to take steps to help prevent it.  

  • If you have a condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes, follow your treatment plan. Take advantage of classes and programs that can help you manage these conditions and keep blood pressure and blood-glucose levels in their target range. 
  • Talk with a doctor about risk factors and whether routine kidney check-ups are appropriate. The urology department at Meadows Health has some of the best experts in the region. 
  • Take any medications as prescribed. Talk with your health care provider about any medicines you take, including supplements and over-the-counter drugs. 
  • Be mindful of your diet. Emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Limit fats, salt and sweets. If you have a health condition, your doctor may have more specific recommendations. 
  • Make physical activity part of your routine. Our wellness center offers a wide range of fitness classes and programs to choose from, plus personal trainers. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Losing excess pounds can help lessen strain on kidneys and other organs. But beware of fad diets and quick weight loss schemes. Talk with your healthcare provider, nutritionist or a personal trainer about a healthy weight loss plan. 
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices. Get enough sleep. Manage stress. Limit alcohol. If you smoke, quit. There are many free resources to help you quit, such as apps, a motivational text service, and a chat line at BeTobaccoFree.hhs.gov and Smokefree.gov

If you’re concerned about your kidney health, we encourage you to make an appointment with one of our urologists at Meadows Health Urology. We have locations in Vidalia and Dublin for your convenience: 

1707 Meadows Lane, Suite F 
Vidalia, GA 30474 
Phone:  912.537.9481 
Mon.- Fri.: 8:00am - 5:00pm 

200 Fairview Park Drive
Dublin, GA 31021 
Phone: 478.272.6150 
Mon.- Fri.: 8:00am - 5:00pm 


Sources:
https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease
https://www.cdc.gov/kidneydisease/prevention-risk/take-care.html
https://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-disease/
https://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-disease/kidney-problems/