Did you know that 1 in 3 American adults are at risk for kidney disease?  Major risk factors include, but are not limited to: diabetes, high blood pressure, a family history of kidney failure and being age 60 or older1. We may not spend a lot of time thinking about our hard working little kidneys, but March is Kidney Health Awareness month which means it is the perfect time to spend a little extra time on those little bean shaped organs of ours.
Our kidneys work very hard every day behind the scenes by filtering our blood and helping our bodies get rid of toxins. While nobody seems to pay much attention to kidneys, they play a major role in our overall health. Similarly, personal protection is often overlooked as a primary source of health and well-being because not everyone believes that is a necessity. However, if you tripped and fell to the floor in your home and couldn’t get up, what would you do? Well, with Life Alert Protection worry no more! Simply wear their emergency pendant around your neck or wrist and in the event of a life threatening emergency, push the button on your pendant and get an emergency medical response fast. Your kidneys shouldn’t stop working and neither should your personal protection, which is why Life Alert is available 24/7
Get better protection with Life Alert, and get to know your kidneys better by getting educated this month. No need to feel like a kidney failure if you are feeling unprepared for Kidney Health Awareness Month as Better Health Channel1 has you covered. From problems to look out for, to ways you can maintain kidney health, you’ll be a kidney expert when you’re finished reading!
Types of age-related kidney disease
Older people are more at risk of some kidney and urinary tract diseases. These include:
- Inflammation or swelling of the kidneys – this can be caused by conditions such as glomerulonephritis.
- Diabetes – this is the most common cause of kidney failure in Australia. Damage can occur to blood vessels and nerves, even when the diabetes is well managed.
- Urinary Tract Infections – if left untreated, a urinary tract infection may spread into the kidneys. It is important to see a doctor if a kidney infection is suspected, because lasting damage can occur if it is left untreated. Urinary tract infections are very common, particularly in women and with increasing age.
- Urinary incontinence – this is uncontrolled leaking of urine from the bladder, which can increase the risk of urinary tract infections. Your doctor should check any problems linked to passing urine, as they may indicate more serious kidney problems or other conditions, such as an enlarged prostate in men.
- Renovascular disease – fatty deposits, cholesterol, calcium and other substances are deposited in the inner lining of the arteries, causing narrowing or blockage of the renal artery. This affects the kidneys’ filters and reduces the blood supply to the kidneys, resulting in high blood pressure and reduced kidney function. This is the most common cause of kidney failure in the elderly.
- High blood pressure – if left untreated, high blood pressure can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and loss of vision.
- Hereditary kidney diseases – including polycystic kidney disease.
Risk factors for age-related kidney disease
Some conditions that affect the kidneys and urinary tract are more common as people get older. You are more at risk of developing kidney disease if you:
- are over 60 years of age
- have diabetes
- are obese
- have high blood pressure
- have established heart problems (heart failure or past heart attack) or have had a stroke
- are a smoker
- have a family history of kidney failure
- are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin.
Keeping your kidneys healthy
There are a number of things you can do to keep your kidneys healthy, including:
- If you have diabetes, make sure that your blood sugar control is excellent. Follow your doctor’s advice about insulin injections, medicines, diet, physical activity and monitoring your blood sugar.
- Control high blood pressure. Have your blood pressure checked regularly. Drugs used to lower blood pressure (anti-hypertensive drugs), such as ACE inhibitors or angiotensin blockers, can slow the development of kidney disease.
- If you have one of the risk factors for kidney disease, have a Kidney Health Check (blood test, urine test and blood pressure check) at least every two years (every year if you have diabetes or high blood pressure).
- Treat urinary tract infections immediately.
- Control blood cholesterol levels with diet and medications if necessary.
- Drink plenty of water and choose foods that are low in sugar, fat and salt, but high in fiber. Stick to moderate serving sizes.
- Do not smoke.
- Drink alcohol in moderation only.
- Stay at a healthy weight for your height and age.
- Try to exercise moderately for at least 30 minutes a day.
While Kidney Health Awareness may only come around once a year for one month only, your kidneys are working 24/7, as does Life Alert. Life Alert Protection offers 24/7 protection and while wearing their lightweight, waterproof medical alert pendant, you can summon help fast with just one touch of a button. For a free brochure to learn about all of Life Alert’s lifesaving services call 1-800-513-2934.
- “Kidneys-Age Related Problems.” Better Health Channel. <https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/kidneys-age-related-problems>.