As organs go, our brains get the glory for allowing us to process information and think deep thoughts. The heart gets its own holiday, all the credit for romance, and keeps us alive with its rhythmic ba-bump, ba-bump.
Kidneys? They’re so vital we have two of them, but does anyone ever stop to thank them? Sadly, they do not. The bean-shaped organs are the blue-collar, work boot-wearing Joes of our bodies. Without their work to filter toxins from our blood and turn it into urine, we’d all be in trouble.
As it happens, March is National Kidney Month, so let’s take a moment to contemplate the good our kidneys do.
Besides cleaning our blood, they keep blood minerals balanced, regulate fluid levels and activate vitamin D to keep our bones healthy.
Plenty can go awry if kidneys aren’t on the job: there’s cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, weak bones, high blood pressure, stroke and anemia.
Even if we don’t go out of our way to wax poetic about, or even notice, our kidneys, the least we can do is to try not to hurt them.
Keep tabs on your blood pressure. Make sure your doctor asks for annual tests that gauge how much protein is in your urine and how well your kidneys’ filtering function is working.
Like many internal diseases, kidneys often give little or no warning before sounding the alarms. Be alert for urine that’s pink, foamy or overly dark. Puffy eyes and swollen extremities also bear checking out.
The rest is pretty standard — exercise, keep your weight in check, eat right, don’t smoke or drink too much alcohol, do drink plenty of water and get an annual physical.
And maybe just a tiny thank you once in a while wouldn’t hurt.