Your kidneys help filter waste, excess fluid, and toxins from your blood. They are also important for blood cell production and bone health. If kidneys don't work properly, harmful substances build up in the body, blood pressure can rise, and too much fluid can collect in the body's tissues, which leads to swelling, called edema.
If your kidneys fail, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant to take over their job.
Since diabetes and high blood pressure put you at risk of kidney disease, know where you stand with these risks. Do you have diabetes or high blood pressure? If so, are they under control?
If you can, find out if diabetes, hypertension, or kidney disease runs in your family. Certain ethnic groups, such as African-Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans are at higher risk of chronic kidney disease, as are senior citizens.
Get Tested Regularly
At your next checkup, and at least within the next year if you haven't had these tests done:
Ask for a blood pressure reading, to see if your blood pressure is elevated.
Ask for a fastingblood glucose test, to see if you have too much glucose (sugar) in your blood. Another blood test that can be used to determine diabetes is a hemoglobin A1C which will indicate your average blood glucose level over the past two to three months.
Ask for a creatinine test. This blood test measures the amount of waste from muscle activity. When the kidneys are not working properly, the creatinine rises.
If any of these tests are abnormal, your health care provider will need to do other tests to more clearly define the problem.
If you have diabetes, work with your health care provider to keep your blood sugar levels under the best possible control. A program of diet, regular exercise, glucose monitoring, and medications to control blood sugars and protect kidney function can help.