6 Important Ways to Keep Your Kidneys Functioning Properly

Published March 26, 2024 in Blog

It’s fair to say that the kidneys are the unsung heroes of the human body. In addition to filtering waste, toxins, and excess water from the blood, kidneys help keep bones healthy and regulate blood pressure. 

Kidneys are also the most commonly transplanted organ. Right now in the United States, there are nearly 90,000 patients waiting for a lifesaving kidney transplant. March is National Kidney Month – an important time to make sure that you are registered as an organ donor and a great opportunity to take action today to prioritize your own kidney health.

In celebration of National Kidney Month, we’ve compiled helpful information on risk factors for kidney disease, symptoms to watch for, health problems that can be caused by kidney malfunction, and key ways to maintain kidney health. 


Common risk factors for kidney disease

Kidney function can be affected by a range of factors, and some people are more likely to develop problems than others. If you have any of the factors listed below, you may be at higher risk.

  • Diabetes
  • Family history of kidney disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Over 60
  • Cigarette smoking


Why symptoms are sometimes hard to watch for

Although an estimated 26 million Americans are living with kidney disease, most don’t even know they have it. In fact, it’s possible to lose up to 60 percent of kidney function before you notice any issues. Talk to your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms, all of which can be an indication of kidney malfunction.

  • Blood in urine
  • Foamy urine
  • Swollen face, hands, abdomen, feet, or ankles
  • Increased urination in volume or frequency
  • Painful urination
  • Puffy eyes
  • Fatigue 
  • Increased thirst


The kidneys perform essential functions for the human body. When your kidneys are not working properly, it can lead to a range of serious medical issues such as the ones listed below. 

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Anemia/low blood cell count
  • Weakened bones
  • Nerve damage
  • Cardiovascular disease


Six key ways to maintain kidney health this month and beyond

Given the dangers of poor kidney health, here’s a brief look at six important things you can do to keep your kidneys functioning properly.

  1. Drink enough water: Adequate water intake helps flush out toxins and waste products, reducing the risk of kidney stones. Proper hydration also supports the kidneys in regulating blood pressure and balancing electrolytes. By prioritizing hydration, you're not just quenching your thirst, you're actively safeguarding your kidney health.
  2. Avoid high-fat foods as much as possible: Excessive fat intake can strain the kidneys by contributing to both high blood pressure and high blood sugar. Opting for lean proteins, whole grains, and a range of fruits and vegetables is an important way to support optimal kidney function.
  3. Quit smoking or vaping: Smoking can seriously harm the kidneys by damaging your cardiovascular system, leading to poor blood flow to the kidneys and long-term damage. In addition, people who smoke are more likely to have protein in the urine, which is a sign your kidneys are under stress. Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to need dialysis or kidney transplants.
  4. Exercise regularly: Regular exercise plays a pivotal role in maintaining kidney health. Physical activity improves blood circulation, eliminating waste products and toxins through the kidneys. Additionally, exercise helps regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of kidney disease. Staying active also supports cardiovascular health, which indirectly benefits the kidneys.
  5. Understand the risks of daily over-the-counter painkiller use: Many people take ibuprofen or naproxen every day for pain or joint swelling. If you fall into this category, ask your doctor about monitoring kidney health, as these painkillers can harm the kidneys if taken for long periods.
  6. Understand when regular kidney monitoring is necessary: Millions of Americans suffer from high blood pressure or high blood sugar. It is important to understand that these conditions can have major impacts on kidney function. If you have been diagnosed with these conditions, or think you might be suffering from them, make plans to have your kidney function monitored regularly.


As you think about all the ways you can prioritize your own health this March, keep in mind the patients who are waiting for a lifesaving kidney transplant. Sign up for the organ, eye, and tissue donor registry, and increase the chance that patients waiting will get the transplants they need to survive.