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The kidneys are fist-sized organs located at the bottom of your rib cage, on both sides of your spine and their main job is to cleanse the blood of toxins and transform the waste for disposal.
The kidneys perform the following functions:
- remove waste products from the body
- remove drugs from the body
- balance the body's fluids
- release hormones that regulate blood pressure
- produce an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones
- control the production of red blood cells
Because maintaining kidney health is necessary to your overall health and general well-being, it is important to keep your kidneys healthy. Chronic Kidney Disease affects approximately 37 million American adults. It occurs when your kidneys become damaged and cannot perform their function.
Common Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease
- Diabetes: This is the leading cause of kidney disease in which your body does not make enough insulin or cannot use normal amounts of insulin properly. This results in a high blood sugar level, which can cause problems in many parts of your body.
- High blood pressure (hypertension): This is another common cause of kidney disease in which the force of blood against your artery walls increases. When high blood pressure is controlled, the risk of complications such as chronic kidney disease is decreased.
- Glomerulonephritis: A disease that causes inflammation of the kidney's tiny filtering units called the glomeruli. Glomerulonephritis may happen suddenly, however, the disease may develop slowly over several years and it may cause progressive loss of kidney function.
- Polycystic kidney disease: This is the most common inherited kidney disease that is characterized by the formation of kidney cysts that enlarge over time and may cause serious kidney damage and even kidney failure.
- Kidney stones: Thesesare very common, and when they pass, they may cause severe pain in your back and side. In cases where stones are too large to pass, treatments may be done to remove the stones or break them down into small pieces that can pass out of the body.
- Urinary tract infections: This occurs when germs enter the urinary tract and cause symptoms such as pain and/or burning during urination and more frequent need to urinate. These infections most often affect the bladder, but they sometimes spread to the kidneys.
What You Can Do To Improve Kidney Health
Many kidney diseases can be treated successfully. For example, careful control of diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure can help prevent kidney disease or keep it from getting worse. Maintaining an active, health-conscious lifestyle is the best thing you can do to make sure your kidneys stay healthy. Drinking plenty of fluids, not smoking, and being aware of the over the counter pills you take are other ways to prevent kidney disease.
If you have a chronic health condition that increases your risk for kidney damage or kidney disease, you should also work closely with your doctor to watch for signs of loss of kidney function.
How We Can Help
USFHP Primary Healthcare Plan provides comprehensive care benefits that offer preventative health screenings along with routine doctor's visits, hospitalization, prescription coverage, and specialty care. We’ve also developed incentive programs that give rewards to our members for meeting certain health goals.
Visit usfhp.net or call 1-800-241-4848 for help finding a provider or assistance scheduling an appointment.