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National Kidney Month

Raising awareness of the body’s ‘factories’

Regular testing for kidney disease is important, especially for people at risk.

March is National Kidney Month, a time to learn more about the pair of organs known as the body’s “chemical factories.”

The kidneys filter waste, keep bones healthy and perform essential functions that control blood pressure and red blood cell production.

One in three U.S. adults is at risk for kidney disease, which occurs when the organs are damaged and can’t filter as well. This can cause serious health problems, such as heart attacks, nerve damage, anemia and stroke.

If left untreated, the disease may lead to kidney failure or cardiovascular disease.

Diabetes, high blood pressure, family history of kidney failure, heart disease, obesity and being older than 60 are major risk factors for developing kidney disease.

Most people with early kidney disease have no symptoms, which is why early detection is vital. By the time symptoms appear, kidney disease is typically advanced.

Possible symptoms can include blood in the urine, foamy urine, painful urination, puffy eyes, increased thirst, fatigue and swelling of the face, hands, abdomen, ankles and feet.

The key is to detect kidney disease before the trouble starts. Early detection and treatment can slow or prevent the disease’s advancement.

Regular testing for everyone is important, but it especially for people at risk. Talk to your doctor about screening tests.

Maintaining healthy habits — such as exercising regularly, controlling weight, eating nutritious meals and monitoring blood pressure — can also lower your risk for kidney disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Kidney Foundation and USPS March Wellness Toolkit websites have more information.