Kidney health: 10 things to know
- The most common causes of kidney disease in Canada are diabetes and high blood pressure. You can do a lot to reduce your risk of kidney disease if you control your blood sugar levels and blood pressure.
- Hemodialysis can be done at home. Although hemodialysis is usually done in a hospital or clinic, you may be able to have it done at home. You will need special training to do this.
- We don't necessarily need two perfectly functioning kidneys. We have two kidneys that help to eliminate excess water and waste products from the body, but we only need one functioning or two partially functioning kidneys to stay healthy. That means that kidney disease has to be quite severe before the kidneys can't do their job properly, and it means that someone with two healthy kidneys can donate one and still live a healthy life.
- Your kidneys do a lot more than remove excess water, salt, and waste products from your body. They also help to regulate the levels of potassium, calcium, and phosphorus in your blood, remove medications from your body, produce a hormone that controls the production of red blood cells, and activate vitamin D.
- In the early stages of kidney disease, there are no symptoms, and tests that measure kidney function may be normal. But as kidney disease progresses, the results of blood or urine tests may show abnormalities indicative of kidney disease. If blood or urine tests indicate that you may have kidney problems, you will likely undergo several other tests (e.g., ultrasound, CT scan, MRI scan, additional blood and urine tests) to determine the exact problem.
- There is a lot you can do to prevent kidney disease. You can eat a healthy diet, be physically active, keep your blood pressure and blood sugar levels controlled, stop smoking, take medications as prescribed or recommended by your doctor, and have your kidney function monitored regularly.
- Kidney transplants are one of the most successful types of transplants. Living kidney transplants (from a live donor) have a success rate of 90% to 95% at one year and non-living transplants have a success rate of 85% to 90%.
- Not all types of kidney disease are inherited. Many things can contribute to the development of kidney disease, including diabetes, high blood pressure, lupus, kidney stones, prostate problems, and medications.
- The best source of a kidney donation is from a close relative (e.g., parent, sibling). Living-donor transplants have the highest success rate and are more likely to be a close match to your genetic make-up, which will decrease the risk of rejection. Living donations, however, should be completely voluntary. No one should be pressured to donate.
- There is a huge demand for healthy kidneys for transplants. Consider what you can do to help. Register for organ or tissue donation.
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