If you’ve been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD), this month means a lot to you. National Kidney Month is celebrated by 37 million Americans all over the country according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Why is this month important? CKD can change your life forever, affecting everything from your diet to your everyday habits.
Why is it important to be informed about CKD?
If you don’t understand CKD causes, diagnosis, and treatment, you’re more likely to get the disease and it’s more likely to escalate or become fatal.
National Kidney Month is an opportunity to spread awareness of CKD and preventative care information to keep your kidneys healthy.
The History of National Kidney Month
How did National Kidney Month start?
All of this started from a mother’s love.
In the 1950s, Ada DeBold’s infant son Bobby was diagnosed with nephrosis. During that time, nephrosis was considered a fatal disease among young children. Although Bobby’s prognosis wasn’t good, Ada wasn’t going to just give up. Ada knew that there wasn’t enough effort being put into understanding the disease, so she got to work.
Through grit and her immense love for her son, Ada encouraged a group of doctors and families to start The National Nephrosis Foundation. The goal of this foundation was primarily to raise the funds needed to study nephrosis and to eventually find a cure.
Ada relied on pure ingenuity and hard work to reach out to other nephrosis patients — specifically, the parents of children with the disease. Together, they would share their stories and information.
On November 15, 1950, Ada and her husband, Harry, organized the first National Nephrosis Foundation meeting. That was when the Committee for Nephrosis Research was officially born.
Soon, Bobby became a part of the research that created an experimental drug that’s the foundation for the nephrosis treatment that we have today.
Thanks to Ada’s resourcefulness and the effort of influential families who also struggled with nephrosis, we now have a fighting chance to deal with kidney disease.
But the fight isn’t over yet.
This is why every March, we celebrate National Kidney Month.
What can you do during National Kidney Month?
The National Kidney Foundation is promoting kidneys as one of the vital organs — just like the heart and lungs. It’s not just about kidney research anymore. The focus has expanded to ensure that people are taking better care of their kidney health. The goal is to work harder and eventually eradicate the fatal threat of CKD.
The question is, what can you do to help during National Kidney Month?
Focus on the main purpose of The National Kidney Foundation: raising awareness.
The best way to spread awareness is to share personal accounts of experiences with nephrosis, especially stories of survival.
Did you or a loved one experience severe kidney disease? Did you have to go through regular dialysis until you finally had a successful kidney transplant? How did you find out about the sickness and the treatments that had to be done?
Share the story of your journey. More importantly, focus on how you or a loved one was able to live normally after a life-threatening kidney diagnosis.
Take Care of Your Kidneys.
What have you done to take care of your kidneys? Maybe you knew a person who got diagnosed with CKD and this may have prompted you to take better care of your kidneys.
What exactly did you have to do to make sure your kidneys were healthy? Proper kidney care does not only call for a change in diet, but also a change in lifestyle.Depending on the stage of CKD, there are different ways you could change your lifestyle to help in your treatment.
Be open and speak up about your journey through a CKD diagnosis to encourage life-saving changes in others who may be undergoing similar circumstances.
Although these changes may seem drastic at the beginning of your treatment, it is important to realize that these methods are not impossible. With time and support, anyone can be on their way toward a successful treatment plan and a healthier life.
How to take care of your kidneys.
Taking care of your kidneys isn’t too complicated, although it does require quite a few lifestyle changes.
So what should you do first?
Start by getting yourself tested. You’ll be asked to do a GFR blood test or an ACR urine test. Ideally, this should be done annually for those who are diagnosed with high blood pressure or diabetes. The same is true if you are 60 years old and above. You can have yourself screened for free through the KEEP Healthy program of the National Kidney Foundation.
Once you’ve been tested, you’ll have a better idea of how you should take care of your kidneys. The more severe the diagnosis, the more changes you’ll have to make.
Usually, you’ll be required to limit your diet. The ideal way to do this is to follow a healthy cardiac diet and keep your blood sugar levels low. You have to cut back on processed food to reduce your sodium, phosphates and nitrates. You should also make a habit of drinking more water.
You should also cut back on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. These may help with your pain problems, but they’re very harmful to your kidneys.
Regular exercise is a must to keep your body healthy. It’s not just your kidneys that will benefit from exercise. Even your heart, muscles, and bones will benefit.
If you can take care of your kidneys, you’ll be a great advocate during National Kidney Month.