Kidney Health for All: World Kidney Day
March 9, 2022
What do singer Selena Gomez and actors Sarah Hyland and George Lopez have in common? Along with one out of every seven adults in the United States, they have some form of kidney disease. Gomez has lupus, a condition that can cause kidney damage. Hyland was born with kidney dysplasia, which meant her kidneys didn’t form properly. Lopez’s condition is not named but was described as genetic. This month, on March 10, we mark World Kidney Day to help educate the public about kidney health. This year’s theme is “Kidney Health for All,” and the goal of the global campaign is to “bridge the knowledge gap to better kidney care.”
Human kidneys are each about the size of a computer mouse. Most people have two. Despite their small size, they play a major role in your health. Kidneys don’t only filter out waste and toxins from your body, they also release hormones that help maintain your blood pressure, balance the fluids in your body, and more.
There are several conditions or traumas that can affect how well your kidneys work.
Autoimmune diseases can cause chronic kidney disease.
Autoimmune diseases are conditions that cause your immune system to attack your body’s healthy cells and tissues. There are many more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases and some can damage the kidneys. The most common autoimmune diseases in the U.S. include type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in three adults with diabetes will develop chronic kidney disease (CKD). “[A]bout 30 percent of patients with type 1 diabetes and 10 to 40 percent of those with type 2 diabetes will eventually experience kidney failure,” states the National Kidney Foundation.
Less common autoimmune diseases, like lupus, can also cause CKD. Up to half of adults and 80% of children with lupus develop lupus nephritis.
Acute kidney injury can be reversed, but in some cases, may lead to CKD.
Acute kidney injury (AKI) is sudden. AKI can occur if you go into shock, like septic shock; or from damage from overuse of medications filtered by the kidneys; trauma to the kidney; urine blockage in the kidneys; and more.
AKI can often be reversed completely when diagnosed and treated early, although some people may have lasting kidney damage.
Some other conditions or traumas can affect your kidneys, such as:
- Kidney stones
Educating people to help improve kidney care and overall health.
So, what can we do to help bridge that knowledge gap and provide education about kidney care and health?
The World Kidney Day organization offers suggestions to help educate people about protecting their kidneys. Here are a few:
- Encourage healthy diets and lifestyles to reduce the risk of injuring the kidneys.
- Healthcare professionals should provide patients and their caregivers with education on caring for themselves and their kidneys, from CKD to kidney stones.
- Teach patients at risk for kidney disease about their condition and how to spot early signs of kidney failure.
- Ensure politicians are aware of kidney disease and kidney failure’s impact on the person, the community, and healthcare resources. This knowledge may lead to better allocation of resources and the adoption of policies to help prevent these conditions and help those who have them.