Kidney Disease

Important note: AACHAC is in the process of updating this health information. Please check back with us soon for the latest information. (6/13/2014)

What is Kidney Disease?
When a person’s kidneys are working at only 5 to 10 percent of normal, he or she must have regular dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant in order to live. Kidneys perform many vital functions including filtering waste products from the blood, controlling fluid balance, regulating blood pressure and stimulating red blood cell production. One out of every three people with kidney failure is African American, compared to only one in eight in the general population.

High blood pressure and diabetes are the leading causes of kidney failure. African Americans, for reasons we don’t entirely understand, are at high risk for both of these conditions. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, often doesn’t have any obvious symptoms. That’s why it’s important to have regular medical check-ups and have your blood pressure checked often, even if you feel well.

Diabetes symptoms include thirst, passing more urine than usual, hunger, unintended weight loss and fatigue. However, diabetes also sometimes has no symptoms. This is another reason why checkups are important. Fortunately, you can help prevent both diabetes and hypertension and their complications if you eat a low-fat, low-salt diet, exercise regularly, limit alcohol intake and don’t smoke. If you have either diabetes or high blood pressure, take your prescribed medication and monitor your condition often.

Warning Signs of Kidney Disease

  • Swelling of parts of the body, especially around the eyes or ankles
  • Pain in the lower back
  • Burning or unusual sensation during urination
  • Bloody or coffee colored urine
  • Urinating more often, especially at night
  • Listless or tired feeling
  • High blood pressure
  • You can feel fine and still have kidney disease
  • African Americans are 2.5 to 5.6 times more likely to suffer from kidney disease with more than 4,000 new cases annually of renal disease requiring either kidney transplant or regular dialysis.

A Word About Lupus

  • Lupus is an autoimmune disorder — a rheumatic disease that belongs to the arthritis family.
  • Lupus can strike different parts of the body. When it damages the kidneys, it is called lupus nephritis.
  • Lupus occurs much more often among African Americans than whites. African American women are three times more likely to be affected than white women.