World Kidney Day: Get to Know Your Kidneys

World Kidney Day is celebrated on March 12th. Our kidneys are vital organs that play a key role in keeping us healthy. But what exactly do our kidneys do and how we keep our kidneys functioning properly? Let’s find out.

What is a kidney? What do our kidneys do?

“A kidney is a filter that removes toxins and fluid from your body,” says Dr. Tony Alvarado, a nephrologist at New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. “Most people have two kidneys. They are the size of a fist, and they filter 200 quarts of blood per day.”

How do we keep our kidneys healthy?

As it turns out, staying physically fit has a positive effect on your kidneys according to Dr. Justin Black, a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor at NBRRH. “Physical fitness helps improve a person’s endurance, strength, balance, and overall independence. But it also helps you with decreasing your blood pressure, improving circulation, and helping with your blood glucose,” notes Dr. Black. “Those things are all very important for your overall kidney health – maintaining good blood pressure and blood glucose.”

What are the signs of kidney disease?

Kidney disease can be a silent issue that many people don’t even know they have. Because of that, it can be challenging to diagnose. Certain factors increase the risk of kidney disease. “Patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, or a family history of kidney issues should look into getting checked,” Dr. Alvarado shares. Speak with your doctor about having blood work or other tests done if you have any of these risk factors.

What can I do to prevent kidney disease?

“Kidney disease, and the progression of kidney disease, is often preventable with lifestyle modifications,” adds Dr. Alvarado. “These include drinking enough water, avoiding smoking, making sure you’re physically active, and controlling any medical problems you may have.”