The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs. Each kidney is about the size of a fist. Your kidneys filter extra water and wastes out of your blood and make urine. Kidney disease means your kidneys are damaged and can’t filter blood the way they should.

You are at greater risk for kidney disease if you have diabetes or high blood pressure. If you experience kidney failure, treatments include kidney transplant or dialysis. Other kidney problems include acute kidney injury, kidney cysts, kidney stones, and kidney infections.

What can I do to keep my kidneys healthy?

You are more likely to develop kidney disease if you have diabetes,high blood pressure,heart disease, a family history of kidney failure.

You can protect your kidneys by preventing or managing health conditions that cause kidney damage, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. The steps described below may help keep your whole body healthy, including your kidneys.

During your next medical visit, you may want to ask your health care provider about your kidney health. Early kidney disease may not have any symptoms, so getting tested may be the only way to know your kidneys are healthy. Your health care provider will help decide how often you should be tested.

See a provider right away if you develop a urinary tract infection (UTI), which can cause kidney damage if left untreated.

Be active for 30 minutes or more on most days. If you are not active now, ask your health care provider about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you. Add more activity to your life.Keeping fit helps to reduce your blood pressure and therefore reduces the risk of Chronic Kidney Disease.

Common drugs such non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen are known to cause kidney damage and disease if taken regularly. Such medications probably do not pose significant danger if your kidneys are relatively healthy and you use them for emergencies only, but if you are dealing with chronic pain, such as arthritis or back pain, work with your doctor to find a way to control your pain without putting your kidneys at risk.

Choose foods that are healthy for your heart and your entire body: fresh fruits, fresh or frozen vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Eat healthy meals, and cut back on salt and added sugars. Aim for less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day. Try to have less than 10 percent of your daily calories come from added sugars.

Tips for making healthy food choices

  • Cook with a mix of spices instead of salt.
  • Choose veggie toppings such as spinach, broccoli, and peppers for your pizza.
  • Try baking or broiling meat, chicken, and fish instead of frying.
  • Serve foods without gravy or added fats.
  • Try to choose foods with little or no added sugar.
  • Gradually work your way down from whole milk to 2 percent milk until you’re drinking and cooking with fat-free (skim) or low-fat milk and milk products.
  • Eat foods made from whole grains—such as whole wheat, brown rice, oats, and whole-grain corn—every day. Use whole-grain bread for toast and sandwiches; substitute brown rice for white rice for home-cooked meals and when dining out.
  • Read food labels. Choose foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
  • Slow down at snack time. Eating a bag of low-fat popcorn takes longer than eating a slice of cake. Peel and eat an orange instead of drinking orange juice.
  • Try keeping a written record of what you eat for a week. It can help you see when you tend to overeat or eat foods high in fat or calories.

If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease, the best way to protect your kidneys from damage is to:

Keep blood glucose numbers close to your goal. Checking your blood glucose, or blood sugar, level is an important way to manage your diabetes. Your health care team may want you to test your blood glucose one or more times a day.

Keep your blood pressure numbers close to your goal. The blood pressure goal for most people with diabetes is below 140/90 mm Hg.

Take all your medicines as prescribed. Talk with your health care provider about certain blood pressure medicines,  which may protect your kidneys.

To help prevent heart attacks and stroke, keep your cholesterol levels in the target range. There are two kinds of cholesterol in your blood: LDL and HDL. LDL or “bad” cholesterol can build up and clog your blood vessels, which can cause a heart attack or stroke. HDL or “good” cholesterol helps remove the “bad” cholesterol from your blood vessels. A cholesterol test also may measure another type of blood fat called triglycerides.

For most people, having one or two occasional drinks won’t have any serious effects on the kidneys, but excessive drinking certainly will. If you are regularly drinking past the point of moderation, you may be causing slow, long-term damage to your kidneys that can’t be repaired. Similarly Smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. When less blood reaches the kidneys, it impairs their ability to function properly. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by about 50 percent.

What's happening


Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD)

ADPKD is disease caused by a mutation in one of two kidney building block proteins, called polycystin 1 and polycystin 2 (genes PKD1 and PKD2). Specific mutations in either of these two genes cause abnormal fluid filled cysts to be formed in the kidney tissue. As these cysts grow in number and size, they press on other parts of the kidney, causing damage and scarring. Children can be born with severely enlarged kidneys (the size of normal adult kidneys) and can have immediate kidney failure at birth, but more commonly this is a condition that shows up in older children or adults, and may progress over several years to worse kidney disease and kidney failure.

Genetics & Kidney Disease

Some diseases can be caused by a mutation in just one of the two copies of a gene, with the mutated gene being strong enough to overcome the affects of the other, normal gene. This is called Autosomal Dominant Inheritance. An example of this is the disease Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD). If a person has an autosomal dominant genetic disease, it is likely that one of that person’s parents also had the disease, and also likely that some of that person’s children may inherit the disease.

How does genetic testing help?

Sometimes it is difficult to be sure a child has ADPKD. A few other diseases can look the same in a newborn child, and mild forms of the disease may not show up until later in childhood , and then may show up first by affecting the liver. A genetic test can confirm the presence of a mutation in the PKD1 genes and confirm that the problem is ADPKD and not some other kidney problem that would need different monitoring or treatment.

Know Your kidney status now!

You can begin testing your kidneys’ health through some very simple, non-invasive screenings. If you think you may be at risk for kidney disease, remember: it is important to not delay getting screened, as early detection and treatment can slow or prevent the progression of kidney disease.