As many as 90 percent of Americans who have chronic kidney disease (CKD) don’t know they have it until it’s advanced.
March is National Kidney Month, and DHEC is encouraging everyone to follow their kidney health closely. DHEC recognizes the significant roles health care professionals, renal dialysis facilities and those living with CKD play in the awareness of kidney disease.
Kidneys serve multiple functions in keeping us healthy; they regulate fluid levels, activate vitamin D for healthy bones, filter waste from the blood, direct production of red blood cells, regulate blood pressure and keep blood minerals in balance. According to the United Health Foundation, South Carolina is above the national average of adults who have reported being told by a professional that they have kidney disease.
There are steps anyone can take to protect their kidneys from damage and slow kidney disease. Learning that your kidneys are struggling early, before symptoms arise, provides time to make lifestyle changes that will keep your kidneys healthier for longer. Even if you’ve seen symptoms, you can take steps to slow the disease.
Follow Your Kidney Health in Three Steps:
1. Know Your Risk – There are several risk factors associated with kidney disease. Even if you feel healthy, if you’re over 60 or have diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease, consider speaking with your doctor about being tested for kidney disease. Your doctor will work with you to create a plan based off your results that reduces your risk for serious health problems linked to kidney disease.
2. Schedule Your Test – It takes two quick tests to check for kidney disease. The tests check for kidney damage and function. If any signs of damage arise, your doctor may recommend annual or more frequent testing.
3. Follow Your Kidney Health – Whether you and your doctor created a treatment or monitoring strategy, the plan is meant to fit your lifestyle, mobility, health status and dietary needs. CKD is progressive – which means it’s crucial to follow your kidney health and update your care plan as needed.
DHEC is responsible for overseeing the renal dialysis facilities in SC and acknowledges that access to a properly-run facility is a top priority when looking for care. If you or someone you know is affected by CKD and looking for assistance finding the right treatment plan or dialysis options, DHEC offers a resource that assists in finding services near you. Access our Find a Facility map for information regarding facility options near you or your loved ones.