March is National Kidney Month

We celebrate our kidneys for the full month of March, and the second Thursday in March is World Kidney Day.

The 2019 theme is “Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere,” and 66 countries around the world are expected to hold World Kidney Day activities.

Why kidneys matter
Your kidneys are vital to your overall health — in addition to cleaning your blood and balancing your body’s fluid levels, kidneys regulate blood pressure, make red blood cells and release important hormones, such as those that keep bones healthy. Kidney disease occurs when kidneys lose their ability to do these tasks, usually gradually and often without symptoms.

Common causes of kidney disease
Diabetes and high blood pressure are two of the most common causes of kidney disease. Genetic factors can also play a role — learn more about your relatives’ health history if kidney disease runs in your family.

Ask your doctor to test you for kidney disease if you are at risk — take a quiz to find out at

The first World Kidney Day
World Kidney Day was initiated in 2006 by the International Society of Nephrology, then led by University of Washington nephrologist Dr. William Couser, in response to what it saw as a looming global pandemic of kidney disease.

Today kidney disease affects 850 million people worldwide and is the 11th leading cause of global mortality.

Care tips for your kidneys
Take control of your kidney health by following these suggestions:

  • Follow prescribed treatments to control diabetes and/or high blood pressure
  • Lose extra weight with a healthy diet and regular exercise
  • Eat less salt, protein and fat
  • Limit the alcohol you consume
  • Avoid illegal drugs
  • Don’t overuse prescription or over-the-counter pain/anti-inflammatory medicines