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In a recent article in the Huffington Post Post 50 recurring column, Savvy Senior, a questioned was posed by a reader about kidney disease. Adults who are 60 or older are especially vulnerable to contract this disease; a disease whose symptoms can go virtually undetected. Here are some questions about what exactly kidney disease is, the different types, the symptoms, and what it may mean if you are diagnosed with it.

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What is kidney disease?

According to medical-dictionary.com, kidney disease is defined as any damage that reduces the functioning of the kidney. It can also be referred to as renal disease. There are currently 26 million Americans suffering from chronic kidney disease, and many millions at risk of developing it. Why? Well, there are several causes of kidney disease. However, the leading cause of kidney disease are the following: diabetes, high blood pressure, inherited diseases, and infection. The beginning symptoms can be mild such as a lack of urination or increased fluid build up in the body. These symptoms usually develop over a period of time (even several years) without being detected. If left untreated, this can develop into chronic kidney disease, which can be more serious. As a result, an individual can spend time hooked up to a dialysis machine or waiting on a kidney transplant. This is a widespread problem among Americans, and is affecting a higher number of people due to obesity, type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure; all of which put a strain on the kidneys.

How can you help reduce your risk of kidney disease?

Get tested. The National Kidney Foundation has an online test you can take to start with (kidney.com). Then, go to your doctor because kidney disease can be detected from a simple blood and urine test. If you suffer from any of the above listed diseases (diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease, or have a family history of kidney disease OR are 60 years or older), you need to get tested.

If you’re diagnosed with kidney disease?

  • Control your blood pressure.
  • Control your diabetes.
  • Change your diet.
  • Watch your meals.
  • Exercise (perhaps lose excessive weight).
  • Quit smoking if you have the habit.

If you are diagnosed with kidney disease, it may not be fatal. Especially in cases of acute kidney disease. There is a high survival rate for 5 years or so after a kidney transplant and 15,000 transplants are done each year. The greatest tool for prevention or treatment is early detection. Go to your doctor and have yourself or an elderly loved one tested.

(*This article was written with the help of http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-t-miller/how-to-take-care-of-your_b_6562658.html; http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/kidney+infection*)