You may have a strong stomach and your heart may be in the right place, but how well are your kidneys working? If you have risk factors for kidney disease, ask your doctor about getting tested to find out your kidney health.
Your kidneys aren’t very large—each is just the size of a computer mouse—but they’re hard-working. They filter all the blood in your body every 30 minutes, removing wastes, toxins, and excess fluid. They also help control blood pressure, stimulate production of red blood cells, keep your bones healthy, and regulate blood chemicals that are essential to life.
Each kidney is made up of millions of tiny filters called nephrons. Over time, nephrons can become damaged by diabetes, high blood pressure, or other causes and stop working, a condition called chronic kidney disease, or CKD. Healthy nephrons can make up the difference for a while, but if not treated, CKD usually gets worse. CKD can lead to kidney failure, also known as end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or Stage 5 CKD. A person with ESRD will need regular dialysis (a treatment that filters the blood) or a kidney transplant to survive.
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