March is National Kidney Month—a great opportunity to learn about your risk for kidney disease and take steps to prevent it!

Here are five facts about kidney disease from the American Kidney Fund to share with friends and family throughout the month:

1. Kidney disease often has no symptoms. Millions of Americans have kidney disease and don’t know it. Simple tests can you tell you your kidneys are working right.

2. Diabetes and high blood pressure—the leading causes of kidney failure—cause nearly 3 out of every 4 cases of kidney failure.

3. As many as 31 million Americans are living with chronic kidney disease and millions more are at risk. Kidney disease is the ninth-leading cause of death in the United States.

4. You can take simple steps to protect yourself from kidney disease. A healthy lifestyle, which includes exercise and good control of other conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can help prevent kidney disease.

5. Some people are more at risk for kidney disease. You may be at risk if you have diabetes or high blood pressure; have a family history of kidney disease; are over age 60; or African-American, Hispanic, Native American or Asian American.

If you have already been diagnosed with kidney disease or have a family history, here are five easy healthy living tips.

1. Cut it Out! The Salt, That Is. Try using fresh herbs and spices rather than salt when you cook. Reducing your salt intake can help you keep a healthy blood pressure.

2. Eat Right! Make sure your diet is balanced, and eat food low in fat. This can help you keep a healthy weight.

3. Check It Out! See your doctor for regular check-ups, or find free health screenings in your area. Get tested for diabetes and have your blood pressure checked often.

4. Work Out! Exercise for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, to help prevent kidney disease and other conditions. To get started, take the stairs rather than the elevator, park at the far end of your parking lot, walk to work or school, pop in your favorite CD and dance to a few songs, and multitask! Get moving while watching your favorite TV shows.

5. Don’t Smoke! If you smoke, quit today. Chewing sugar-free gum may help reduce the urge to smoke. Talk to your doctor about methods that you can use to quit your habit and improve your health.

The New Orleans Tribune

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