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World Kidney Day: 7 Important Facts About Your Kidneys


Your kidneys have an important job to do. They filter your blood around the clock, and they turn waste products into urine. They're vital organs. Still, you might be surprised to learn that it’s possible to live a healthy, normal life with just one kidney instead of the usual two. You also might not know your kidneys have many other important jobs that affect different parts of your body. When your kidneys can’t do their job, your entire body feels it. Get the facts on kidney disease so you can protect your health. 

1. Kidney Disease is common. People of all ages can develop kidney disease. Certain groups of people are at greater risk, including African Americans and Hispanics.  

2. Kidney disease is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. Kidney disease affects the heart. People with kidney disease have a greater risk than others for heart disease and stroke. On the flip side, high blood pressure—a risk factor for heart disease—can also damage the kidneys.

3. Millions of people don’t know they have kidney disease. At first, damaged kidneys try to make up for lost function. That means early kidney disease often has no warning signs. You might not realize you have kidney disease until it’s advanced. 

4. Your risk for kidney disease increases with age. As you get older, you're more likely to develop kidney disease. It's especially common among people age 60 and older.

5. Kidney disease can lead to weak bones.The kidneys help activate vitamin D. This essential vitamin absorbs calcium and phosphorus to make your bones strong. Your kidneys also work to keep the right balance of these minerals in your body. Your body might not get the vitamin D it needs if your kidneys aren't working properly. Then your bones can become brittle or weak and more likely to break.

6. Kidney disease affects nearly every part of your body. Kidney disease doesn’t just involve your kidneys. It can lead to low levels of red blood cells. That's anemia. This can make you feel weak and tired. Kidney disease can also weaken your immune system, which makes you more likely to get infections.

7. Smoking and drinking alcohol can make kidney disease worse. Heavy drinking can cause changes to your kidneys that could make them less able to filter alcohol and other harmful substances from your blood. Alcohol also interferes with the ability of your kidneys to keep the right amount of water in your body. Heavy drinking and smoking can lead to high blood pressure, which is a major cause of kidney disease.