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National Kidney Month

Learn about the body’s ‘chemical factories’

Exercising regularly and maintaining other healthy habits can lower your risk for kidney disease.

March is National Kidney Month, a time to learn more about the organ and its role in the body.

The kidneys are like chemical factories — they filter waste, keep bones healthy and perform essential functions that control blood pressure and red blood cell production.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, most people in the early stages of 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.

One in three U.S. adults is at risk for kidney disease.

Diabetes, high blood pressure, family history of kidney failure, heart disease, obesity and being over age 60 are major risk factors for developing kidney disease. Consult your doctor if you are at risk.

Kidney disease can cause serious health problems, such as heart attack, nerve damage, anemia and stroke. If left untreated, it may lead to kidney failure or cardiovascular disease.

The only way to determine if you have kidney disease is through specific blood and urine tests. Regular testing for everyone is important, but it is especially important for those at risk.

Early detection and treatment can slow or prevent the advancement of kidney disease.

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

The CDC, National Kidney Foundation and USPS March Wellness Toolkit websites have more information on kidney health.

This information should not be construed as medical advice. Individuals should always consult with their doctor.