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How to protect yourself against chronic kidney disease

There are often little to no symptoms in chronic cases, which is why screening is so important for catching it in its earliest stages.

One in three Americans are at risk for kidney disease. There are often little-to-no symptoms in chronic cases, which is why screening is so important for catching it in its earliest stages.

Dr. Cecil Sue-Wah-Sing of WellMed explains our kidneys act as a filtration system for our bodies, removing waste and excess fluid from the blood.

“It basically removes toxins that are made from cells in our bodies and get rid of it," he said.

Chronic kidney disease is a condition in which the kidneys are damaged, along with their ability to properly act as a filter. Over time, that can lead to other health problems like heart disease and stroke.

Dr. Sue-Wah-Sing says a person’s risk of kidney disease increases with age and is higher for those already diagnosed with high blood pressure or diabetes.

He explains, “the majority of people who do have chronic kidney disease, are people who have had hypertension or have had diabetes.”

When it comes to symptoms he says, “you may start to see that you have edema, which is swelling of your legs, or you might have swelling around your eyes, or you may start to have itching, feeling of nausea, vomiting, or you may find that you’re not urinating as much as before.”

Unfortunately, more often, those symptoms arise when the kidneys are already failing. That’s why regular screenings are important for a diagnosis. 

“Anytime that you go for a physical or see your physician, they would order blood tests,” says Dr. Sue-Wah-Sing.

Excessive alcohol use can exacerbate the issue. Dr. Sue-Wah-Sing says keeping weight down, healthy eating habits and quitting smoking will help lower a person's risk of kidney disease.

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