Why Kids Should Care About Their Kidneys

December 14, 2017

We know that your kidneys are probably not even on your radar. After tests, papers, tryouts, and crushes, who has time to think about the bean shaped organs in their lower back? We get it, trust us. We’ve been picked last for the dance a few times and we’re used to it. Other vital organs like the heart, the brain, and the lungs tend to get all the attention.

But, we’re here to tell you that you SHOULD care about your kidneys! Why? Well, because they are VITAL for a reason. All of your vital organs work together to keep your body healthy, and the kidneys do a more important job than you think. 

What do the kidneys even do? 

It all comes down to pee. Well, it’s a little more complicated than that but we will keep things simple. The main job of the kidneys is to filter the wastes out of your blood and release them through urine. When you eat or drink, your body keeps the nutrients (the good stuff) and gets rid of the stuff that it doesn’t need or shouldn’t have. Kind of like when you skip commercials in order to get back to your favorite TV show - your kidneys are the fast forward button! 

If the kidneys clean my blood anyways, why does it matter what I eat or drink or how I take care of my body? 

Your kidneys are pretty special organs, but they aren’t magical. Just because someone has a washing machine in their home doesn’t mean they can get every stain out, or that their laundry isn’t piling up in the corner of their room! So, just as you want to avoid spilling pasta sauce when you are wearing a white shirt, you want to avoid things like drinking lots of sugary sodas or not getting enough exercise when you are trying to be kidney healthy! When we take care of our kidneys, they can take care of us.

What happens if my kidneys aren’t healthy? 

When kidneys are sick we feel different things. Sometimes our eyes are puffy and our feet and hands are swollen. Sometimes we are very tired. Sometimes we feel a burning when we go to the bathroom or we have blood in our pee. These symptoms can get in the way of your school, your work, and your playtime. Over 37 million American adults live with chronic kidney disease, which, when it gets worse, can lead to kidney failure. When your kidneys stop working they need to be replaced. While a patient waits for a transplant they will start a medical treatment called dialysis, which is when a machine does the job of the kidneys several times a week. But, this machine isn’t like your tablet or smartphone. It lives in special clinics and takes a long time to work since it has a lot to catch up on in the days since the last session. Kidney disease is not fun, but you can get ahead of it by taking care of your kidneys from a young age! 

How can I "heart" my kidneys? 

  • Get regular exercise/activity/play. Regular exercise and physical activity will keep your body feeling healthy - so join a team or get outside and play!

  • Drink up water: Water is important for good kidney health and helps the kidneys remove wastes from the blood in the form of urine (pee). Want to know if you are getting enough? Check your pee! Dark yellow means you need more water. If it’s light and clear you’re doing great - keep it up!

  • Eat less salt: Quick-to-eat, packaged snacks and fast food have high amounts of sodium - which is the bad stuff in salt. Large amounts of sodium can be harmful to your body. So try to eat less food that came from a factory!

  • Keep a calendar: If you take medicines, make sure to stick to the schedule! Talk to your parents about a routine to make sure you are taking the right medicine at the right time, and always with lots of water, unless your doctor tells you to limit how much you drink!  

  • Get that lollipop: We will make a sugar exception for your annual visits to the doctor - make sure you get regular checkups so you can stay ahead of any possible problems! Don’t worry, no needles are needed for this appointment - just pee in a cup to check up on your kidney health!