March is National Kidney Month and Stillwater Billings Clinic reminds you to give your kidneys a second thought and shares this information from the National Kidney Foundation.
Most people know that a major function of the kidneys is to remove waste products and excess fluid from the body. These waste products and excess fluid are removed through the urine. The production of urine involves highly complex steps of excretion and re-absorption. This process is necessary to maintain a stable balance of body chemicals.
The critical regulation of the body’s salt, potassium and acid content is performed by the kidneys. The kidneys also produce hormones that affect the function of other organs. For example, a hormone produced by the kidneys stimulates red blood cell production. Other hormones produced by the kidneys help regulate blood pressure and control calcium metabolism.
The kidneys are powerful chemical factories that perform the following functions:
- remove waste products from the body
- remove drugs from the body
- balance the body’s fluids
- release hormones that regulate blood pressure
- produce an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones
- control the production of red blood cells
Many kidney diseases can be treated successfully. Careful control of diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure can help prevent kidney disease or keep it from getting worse. Kidney stones and urinary tract infections can usually be treated successfully. Unfortunately, the exact causes of some kidney diseases are still unknown, and specific treatments are not yet available for them. Sometimes, chronic kidney disease may progress to kidney failure, requiring dialysis or kidney transplantation. Treating high blood pressure with special medicine often helps to slow the progression of chronic kidney disease. A great deal of research is being done to find more effective treatment for all conditions that can cause chronic kidney disease.
You may have an increased risk for kidney disease if you are older, have diabetes, have high blood pressure, have a family member who has chronic kidney disease, are an African American, Hispanic American, Asians and Pacific Islander or American Indian.
If you are in one of these groups or think you may have an increased risk for kidney disease, ask your doctor about getting tested.