World Kidney Day

World Kidney Day is March 11, 2021

There are two kidneys in the human body, each one about the size of a fist, and they are located at the lowest level of the rib cage on either side of the spine. They have several vital functions including:

  • filter toxins/waste from the blood
  • regulate the body’s fluids and blood minerals
  • activate vitamin D to maintain healthy bones
  • release hormone that regulates blood pressure
  • release hormones that stimulate the production of red blood cells

There are several steps you can take to maintain the health of your kidneys throughout your lifetime:

  • exercise regularly
  • manage blood sugar levels
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • follow a balanced diet
  • stay hydrated
  • do not smoke tobacco products
  • drink alcoholic beverages in moderation
  • monitor your cholesterol levels
  • avoid NSAIDs ( a type of over the counter painkiller)

The term “Chronic Kidney Disease” (CKD) refers to having decreased kidney function for a period of three months or longer due to some type of kidney abnormality and encompasses 5 stages of kidney damage. Over 37 million adults in the United States have Chronic Kidney Disease, with even more at risk. There are many causes of CKD, some develop over time while some are congenital. Some of the more common causes of Chronic Kidney Disease include:

  • Type 1/Type 2 diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • glomerulonephritis
  • interstitial nephritis
  • polycystic kidney disease
  • prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract due to kidney stones
  • recurrent urinary tract/kidney infections


Factors that may increase your risk of CKD include:

  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • cardiovascular disease
  • smoking
  • obesity
  • family history of kidney disease
  • abnormal kidney structure
  • old age
  • being African-American, Native American, or Asian-American


Few signs or symptoms of the disease may be present in the early stages, due to the kidney’s ability to adapt and compensate for lost function. The nonspecific symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease may only become apparent once kidney function has been significantly impacted. CKD has the potential to progress to kidney failure which is fatal without the medical intervention of either dialysis (artificial filtering) or a kidney transplant. Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness/fatigue
  • Problems sleeping
  • Changes in the frequency of urination
  • Decreased mental sharpness
  • Muscle cramps/twitches
  • Swelling of feet and ankles
  • Persistent itching
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • High blood pressure that is difficult to manage

While these symptoms may not present themselves until the kidneys have been damaged, there are significant warning signs to look out for that may aid in detection:

  • High blood pressure
  • Blood and/or protein in the urine
  • High levels of creatinine and Blood Urea Nitrogen in the blood
  • Glomerular filtration rate of less than 60
  • Difficult, painful, or more frequent urination (particularly at night)
  • Puffiness around the eyes
  • Swelling of hands and feet


Early detection and treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease are essential in preventing progression to kidney failure. If you have any warning signs or symptoms of kidney disease, you should make an appointment with your doctor for further evaluation. If you have a medical condition that increases your chances of developing CKD, it is likely your doctor will use blood and urine tests during regular visits to monitor your blood pressure and kidney function.