March is National Kidney Month, established by the National Kidney Foundation, to generate awareness of kidney disease and ways to test and treat it. Kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the United States, and more than 95,000 people are waiting every day to receive a kidney transplant, surviving each day on dialysis.
Kidneys are fist-sized organs, shaped like beans, located at the bottom of your rib cage, on both sides of your spine. These small organs do a big job and are, in fact, vital to our good health. They filter waste products, excess water, and other impurities from our blood. Kidneys filter 53 gallons of blood a day, keeping your blood pressure in check, and even assisting with the production of red blood cells. They also activate a form of vitamin D that helps your body absorb calcium for building bones and regulating muscle function.
More than 37 million American adults are living with kidney disease and, because many symptoms don’t appear until the very late stages, only 10% of people with chronic kidney disease know that they have it. One of the best tips to keep your kidneys healthy is to know your kidney numbers through routine screenings. These include two specific tests: a urine test called ACR (Albumin to Creatinine Ratio) and a blood test that measures a waste product called creatinine and estimates a GFR (glomerular filtration rate). Your healthcare provider can review these results to determine just how well your kidneys are working.
National Kidney Month reminds everyone how important it is to take care of these little filters.