This coming week (August 11–15) is Kidney Disease Awareness and Education Week, which is sponsored each year by the American Nephrology Nurses’ Association (ANNA). The purpose of the week is to raise awareness about kidney disease, treatment options, and related legislative issues among policymakers as well as the general public. How much do you know about your risk for kidney disease?
Twenty-six million Americans have chronic kidney disease, and another 20 million are at increased risk of developing it. According to the National Kidney Foundation (www.kidney.org), many people do not have symptoms of kidney disease until the disease is advanced. However, the following can be signs of kidney disease:
- Feeling more tired than usual/having less energy
- Trouble concentrating
- A poor appetite
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle cramping at night
- Swollen feet and ankles
- Puffiness around your eyes, especially in the morning
- Dry, itchy skin
- Needing to urinate more often, especially at night
People who have diabetes are at increased risk of developing kidney disease and should be screened annually for it, starting at diagnosis for people with Type 2 diabetes and after five years of living with diabetes for people with Type 1. Other factors that raise a person’s risk of developing kidney disease are high blood pressure, a family history of kidney disease, and being a member of certain ethnic or racial groups, including African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and American Indians.
If you are at high risk for kidney disease or think that you may be experiencing symptoms, talk to your doctor about getting screened. And to learn more about steps you can take to prevent and manage kidney disease, check out our article “Protecting Your Kidneys.” You can also get more information about Kidney Disease Awareness and Education Week at www.annanurse.org.
Going beyond next week, the company Fresenius Medical Care, which specializes in dialysis, is offering free “Treatment Options Program” (TOP) sessions around the country. These sessions, which are geared toward people who have kidney disease or are at risk for it and their families, offer information about managing kidney disease and treatments such as dialysis and transplantation. You can look for an upcoming TOP session in your state here.