Roughly 37 million US adults have chronic kidney disease (CKD). Kidney disease is a silent killer, ranking as the number one leading cause of death.
Your kidneys are about the size of a computer mouse and filters all the blood in your body. Their primary role is to remove waste, toxins, and excess fluid. They also aid in regulating blood pressure and stimulating red blood cell production.
CKD is defined as having a kidney abnormality that inhibits kidney function. While there are many causes of kidney disease, often times it is affected by other chronic disease like diabetes, is hereditary, or congenital.
To bring awareness to this “silent disease” in honor of National Kidney Month, so we explored some well-known people who’ve been affected by kidney disease.
All Walks of Life
As the University Kidney Research Organization notes in their list of famous people who have battled kidney disease, it affects people of all ages, races and walks of life – even cowboys (Buffalo Bill) and royals (Prince Rainier III of Monaco). Here’s a sampling of stars on the list:
- The Hollywood crowd – Directors Stephen Spielberg, Howard Hughes and Alfred Hitchcock; actresses Sarah Hyland (Modern Family), Sandra Dee, Marlene Dietrich and Veronica Lake; actors Gary Coleman (Diff’rent Strokes), George Lopez (comedian/talk show host), Dom DeLuise and Laurence Olivier; and TV chef Julia Child
- Artists, writers and musicians – Mozart, Cole Porter, Robin Gibb, C.S. Lewis, Norman Mailer, Natalie Cole, Emily Dickinson, Barry White and Neil Simon
- Athletes, military leaders and more – Douglas MacArthur (U.S. Army General), Jonah Lomu (rugby player of New Zealand), Jack Brabham (Australian race car driver), and Bobby Fischer (chess player)
Know the Signs
Kidney disease is often referred to as a “silent disease” because it often has no symptoms in its early stages and can go undetected until it is very advanced. “Only 10 percent of people with chronic kidney disease know that they have it,” says Dr. Joseph Vassalotti, Chief Medical Officer at the National Kidney Foundation.
Because symptoms don’t always show up early on (or can be attributed to other health conditions), it’s important to know these possible signs, according to the National Kidney Foundation:
- You’re more fatigued than usual and having trouble concentrating
- You’re having trouble sleeping
- You have dry, itchy skin
- You feel the need to urinate more often
- You see blood, excessive bubbles or foaminess in your urine
- Your ankles and feet are swollen
- You have a poor appetite
- Your muscles are cramping
More than 3,500 PLM members have chronic kidney disease. Our platform provides a safe community for you to share your story, learn about others, share treatments, tips and tricks to help improve your quality of life while living with a chronic illness. If you are looking for a community to share your health journey with, join PatientsLikeMe today.