Kidney disease impacts more than 20 million Americans. A doctor makes a kidney disease diagnosis when he or she finds evidence that your kidneys are not properly filtering blood the way that they should for optimum health. Kidney disease most often affects individuals with underlying conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, but it can affect people of various ages and health statuses.

In honor of upcoming National Kidney Month in March, here is what you should know about this disease.

plastic diagram of a kidney

What Do the Kidneys Do and Why Are They Important?

The top job of the kidneys, which are located on either side of the torso below the diaphragm, is to filter and remove waste, toxic substances, and other undesirable materials from the blood and introduce them to be excreted through urine or feces. The purified blood is then released back into circulation. The best way to think about the kidneys as an analogy would be an air filter – taking in dirty air and pumping out fresh, clean air.

In addition to cleaning the blood, the kidneys also reintroduce other critical supplies such as electrolytes (important for hydration), amino acids, and hormones into the blood for delivery throughout the body.

What Causes Kidney Disease?

Sometimes, the kidneys become unable to efficiently clean the blood of toxins at the rate necessary to maintain your health. Initially, many people who experience kidney disease do not notice any symptoms. However, over time, as the effects of impaired kidney function accumulate, the impact becomes noticeable.

The Different Types of Kidney Disease

Clinicians divide kidney disease into five major categories: chronic kidney disease (CKD), glomerulonephritis, kidney stones, polycystic kidney disease, and urinary tract infections.

In most cases, urinary tractions, the least serious type of kidney disease, clear up with the aid of medication. Glomerulonephritis, likewise, often resolves on its own. As a genetic disease (inherited through DNA), polycystic kidney disease causes cysts (fluid sacs) to build up in the kidneys and prevent proper kidney function.

By far the most common type of kidney disease, chronic kidney disease (CKD) is usually caused by high blood pressure that damages the kidneys’ blood vessels and results in a gradual deterioration of kidney function over time. Eventually, CKD patients who don’t receive successful medical treatment require kidney dialysis.

Assessing Kidney Health

If you are concerned about the kidney health of yourself or your family, make an appointment with us as soon as possible. Telehealth now allows you to schedule a personal appointment with your doctor that you can attend virtually from your living room.

Do you have more questions about preventing kidney disease in the Willamette ValleyContact our friendly staff at WFMC Health or become a new patient today!

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