Michigan Association of Health Plans

Protect your kidneys

This article was posted on The Molina Healthcare Blog. Read more here.

Kidneys are like special filters in your body. They help keep your body healthy and strong.

What do healthy kidneys do?

Healthy kidneys:

  • Keep your blood at the right pH
  • Release hormones that control body pressure
  • Produce an active form of vitamin D to keep your bones strong
  • Control the making of red cells
  • Filter out waste products

What is chronic kidney disease? 

CKD is a condition in which the kidneys are damaged. This means that your kidneys can’t filter blood the way they should.

What can CKD do to the body?

CKD can cause:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack and stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Weak bones
  • Nerve damage
  • Anemia
  • Kidney failure

What causes CKD?

High blood pressure and diabetes are the two leading causes of kidney disease. Other risk factors include:

  • Heart disease
  • Older age
  • Obesity
  • Inherited kidney disorders
  • Having a family history of CKD

What are the warning signs of CKD?

  • Swelling in your hands, face, abdomen, ankles and feet
  • Blood in urine
  • Shortness of breath
  • Puffy eyes
  • Feeling tired

How to keep your kidneys healthy?

There is a lot you can do to keep your kidneys healthy! You can:

  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Control your weight
  • Move your body
  • Don’t smoke
  • Monitor your cholesterol levels
  • Get a physical
  • Know your family’s history
  • Lower high blood pressure
  • Reduce your salt intake

Reminder: Drinking enough water is important for your kidney health because it helps your kidneys filter waste and toxins from your body.

What tests help spot CKD?

If you are diabetic or have a higher chance of kidney disease, your doctor will test your blood and urine.

There are two types of urine tests that help check your protein levels:

  • Dipstick urine test measures the presence of proteins, such as albumin, in a urine sample.
  • Urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR) measures how much albumin is in your urine compared to creatinine.

Blood tests 

  • Serum creatinine measures the amount of creatinine in your blood. High levels of serum creatinine can be a sign that your kidneys are not working well.
  • Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) measures how well your kidneys remove waste, toxins and fluids from your blood.
  • Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) measures the amount of urea nitrogen in your blood. Urea nitrogen is a waste product that your body makes from the food you eat.
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