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National Kidney Month: Healthy Living Can Slow Kidney Disease

March 22, 2021

To help mark National Kidney Month, Sepsis Alliance has added another resource to the Sepsis and Related Conditions library: Sepsis and Dialysis. This page adds to other kidney-related conditions: kidney failure, kidney stones, and kidney transplants.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one in seven adults in the United States have chronic kidney disease. As many as 90% don’t know they have it.

Acute kidney injury (AKI) is the sudden decrease in kidney function. It is also called acute renal failure. Nearly one million people a year in the U.S. develop acute kidney injury while in the hospital, and the numbers are rising. According to a study published earlier this year, “AKI complicated the course of nearly one in three patients hospitalized with COVID-19.”

There are many causes for acute kidney injury, including:

  • Sepsis
  • Shock
  • Blood loss
  • Dehydration
  • Organ failure (liver, heart, etc.)
  • Overuse of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen
  • Burns

Acute kidney injury is usually treatable if caught early, although some patients may need dialysis to help the kidneys as part of their initial treatment. Patients who experience acute kidney injury can develop chronic kidney disease later in life because of lingering kidney damage.

Kidney disease/injury increases sepsis risk

People with chronic kidney disease are among those in the higher risk groups for contracting an infection. This, in turn, puts them at risk of developing sepsis. And people with acute kidney injury not caused by sepsis are at high risk of developing sepsis, even after recovering, according to researchers.

Why a kidney awareness month?

Currently, 37 million people in the United States live with chronic kidney disease. By focusing on kidney health throughout March, people can learn about the importance of a healthy lifestyle that could slow kidney disease progression and delay complications.

The kidneys are responsible for helping your body eliminate toxins and waste. But they also help keep the electrolytes (potassium and sodium, for example) and water levels balanced, and they produce some essential hormones. People whose kidneys don’t function properly could develop these and other conditions:

  • High blood pressure
  • Fluid retention (swelling in the arms and legs)
  • Pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs)
  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Anemia

This year’s National Kidney Month focuses on adopting a healthy lifestyle. This can help manage and slow down chronic kidney disease progression. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases offers these healthy lifestyle tips to take charge of your kidney health.

  1. Meet regularly with your health care team. Staying connected with your doctor, whether in-person or using telehealth via phone or computer, can help you maintain your kidney health.
  2. Manage blood pressure and monitor blood glucose levels. Work with your health care team to develop a plan to meet your blood pressure goals and check your blood glucose level regularly if you have diabetes.
  3. Take medicine as prescribed and avoid NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen. Your pharmacist and doctor need to know about all the medicines you take.
  4. Aim for a healthy weight. Create a healthy meal plan and consider working with your doctor to develop a weight-loss plan that works for you.
  5. Reduce stress and make physical activity part of your routine. Consider healthy stress-reducing activities and get at least 30 minutes or more of physical activity each day.
  6. Make time for sleep. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.
  7. Quit smoking. If you smoke, take steps to quit.

 

To learn more about sepsis and other related conditions, visit the Sepsis and… library.