Today is World Kidney Day. A day that may seem like just an “observance,” but in fact, it’s much more. World Kidney Day is a day to bring awareness to chronic kidney disease (CKD). CKD is found worldwide and it’s a serious health concern that can lead to kidney failure and early death. Although you might not commonly hear about CKD, according to www.worldkidneyday.org, “CKD affects approximately 195 million women worldwide and it is currently the eighth leading cause of death in women, with close to 600,000 deaths each year.” Chronic kidney disease is sometimes referred to as chronic renal failure, chronic renal disease, or chronic kidney failure. CKD often goes undetected and undiagnosed until the disease is so far advanced that many patients are down to 25% of normal kidney function before they are diagnosed. All this data makes it even more important to spread the word not just today on World Kidney Day, but every day.

According to www.webmd.com, “The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs on either side of your spine, below your ribs and behind your belly. Each kidney is four or five inches long, roughly the size of a large fist.” Our kidneys have the important job of filtering our blood. Through this filtration they remove waste in the body and help to control our fluid balances. Every day all the blood in our body makes its way through the kidneys several times. All the waste the kidneys remove is then expelled through urination.

When the blood in our bodies isn’t making its way to the kidneys or the kidneys aren’t able to function properly, that is when someone might have CKD. A person with CKD can no longer filter the blood as needed and their kidneys aren’t able to regulate fluids and waste. In advanced CKD, dangerous amounts of fluids and waste can build up in the body.

As mentioned before it can be a long while before people even start to notice signs or symptoms. Aside from kidney disease the kidneys can also ache for a variety of issues like bladder and urinary tract infections, kidney and bladder stones, and even Hepatitis C. Symptoms that can be signs of a kidney problem include pain in or around the kidney area, blood in urine, a change in appearance or smell of urine, decreased or increased urine output and erectile dysfunction. Many more symptoms can be found at www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/172179.php .

Once someone is having symptoms or even if they feel something just isn’t right, they should get themselves checked out. There are a variety of tests for kidney issues such as urine and blood tests, ultra sound and CT-scans. If a diagnosis for CKD has been made, treatment is important for slowing down the progression of kidney damage that may have already taken place. Medications may help treat the cause of the kidney problem, such as hypertension or anemia, but for some with advanced CKD they may require dialysis or even a kidney transplant. Many will remember the movie Steel Magnolias, where Julia Roberts played Shelby, a young mom with diabetes. In the movie her mom, Sally Field, gave her one of her kidneys. Shelby’s kidney issues were a complication of her diabetes. For those with progressive CKD who are facing end-stage kidney failure, their main treatment would be dialysis and/or a kidney transplant.

According to www.kidney.org/kidneydisease/global-facts-about-kidney-disease, “10% of the population worldwide is affected by chronic kidney disease (CKD), and millions die each year because they do not have access to affordable treatment. Over two million people worldwide currently receive treatment with dialysis or a kidney transplant to stay alive, yet this number may only represent 10% of people who actually need treatment to live. In the US, treatment of chronic kidney disease is likely to exceed $48 billion per year. Treatment for kidney failure consumes 6.7% of the total Medicare budget to care for less than 1% of the covered population. In people aged 65 through 74 worldwide, it is estimated that one in five men, and one in four women, have CKD.”

Chronic kidney disease is expensive, it is tiring and treatment can also be very wearing on the body and the mind, not to mention that it also claims many lives. Today is World Kidney Day, and their slogan is “Act Early to Prevent It.” At The Wellness Center we know that not everyone will have CKD, but most of us have two kidneys, so we say this – “Kidneys, two big reasons to raise awareness.”