POPULATIONS AT RISK:
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) World Kidney Day feature, in 2008, more than 110,000 people in the United States began treatment for kidney failure, also called end-stage renal disease. In that same year, more than half a million people in the United States were living on chronic dialysis or with a kidney transplant.
Kidney failure, which occurs when the kidneys can no longer remove wastes and excess fluids from the body, can be a slow process to develop. You may have no symptoms or your symptoms may be mild until your kidneys are working at less than 15 percent of normal capacity. Possible symptoms you may experience as your kidney failure advances include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue or an interrupted sleeping pattern
- A general feeling of illness
- Increased thirst
- Decreased urination
- Swelling of your ankles, eyelids and hands
Acute kidney failure sometimes can be reversed, but chronic kidney failure is usually permanent. The treatment for kidney failure is dialysis or a kidney transplant.
According to the CDC National Chronic Kidney Disease Fact Sheet 2010:
- Leading causes of ESRD are diabetes and hypertension. In 2006, 7 out of 10 new cases of ESRD in the United States had diabetes or hypertension listed as the primary cause. Less common causes include glomerulonephritis, hereditary kidney disease, and malignancies such as myeloma.
- Incidence of ESRD is greater among adults older than 65 years.
- African Americans were nearly four times more likely to develop ESRD than whites in 2007. However, this disparity in ESRD incidence has narrowed from 1998 to 2005.
- Hispanics have 1.5 times the rate of kidney failure compared to non-Hispanic whites.
Some people are surprised by the difference in risk between race groups, especially the high risk of renal failure among African-Americans. The exact reasons why African-Americans have a higher rate of kidney failure are unknown. High blood pressure, abnormal blood sugar levels, obesity and overuse of salt cause more kidney damage in blacks compared to whites. So African-Americans need to aggressively control these risk factors.
Lower your blood pressure. High blood pressure is diagnosed if blood pressure readings are greater than 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). But this blood pressure level is probably too high for African-Americans given their high risk of kidney disease. Ideally, blood pressure should consistently be less than 130/80 mm Hg.
Elevated blood pressure may not require immediate drug therapy, although most people eventually need treatment with drugs, usually requiring two or more medicines to keep control of their blood pressure as they age. Lifestyle changes will help to lower your blood pressure level during all stages of treatment. Healthy eating can lead to dramatic improvement. This means consuming fewer calories, less salt and more vegetables and fruits. Limit your alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day if you are female or two drinks per day if you are male. Be more active during the day, and devote at least 30 minutes per day to exercise.
Decrease your blood-sugar level. If you have diabetes or early signs of poor sugar control (pre-diabetes), consult with your doctor until your blood sugar is in excellent control. Diabetes can be delayed or prevented if you keep your weight healthy and remain physically active.
Talk to your doctor about getting tested. If you or your doctor is concerned about your kidney function, a quick way to see if there is a problem is for you to take a blood test to check your creatinine level. Creatinine is a waste product that is cleared to low blood levels if your kidneys are functioning properly.
A urine test can give additional information. Your doctor will place a chemical strip in your urine to see if you are losing any protein. The presence of protein in your urine and/or abnormal findings on your blood test may detect a problem early enough to allow you to take steps towards prevention, so that you can limit your chance of getting advanced kidney failure.
If you do not have a doctor or cannot afford to see one, call your local health department or visit your local community health center. Some neighborhood clinics will see you regardless of your ability to pay or whether you have health insurance.
Educate yourself and your family. Learn more about preventing kidney failure. By learning more about your condition, you will be armed with the knowledge you need to take charge of your health.
Get additional help. Many government and private organizations, including the following, have excellent outreach programs.
National Kidney Foundation
30 East 33rd St.
New York, NY 10016
Phone: (212) 889-2210
Toll-Free: (800) 622-9010
Fax: (212) 689-9261
National Institute of Diabetes and
Digestive and Kidney Disorders
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Building 31, Room 9A04
Center Drive, MSC 2560
Bethesda, MD 20892-2560
Phone: (301) 496-3583
Fax: (301) 496-7422
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