March is National Kidney Month, and March 14, 2013, is World Kidney Day. A day to raise awareness about chronic kidney disease (CKD), a condition that one in every 10 adults (age 20 or older) in the United States has, as well as people with end stage renal disease (ESRD) who need dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Kidney disease develops when kidneys lose their ability to remove waste and maintain fluid and chemical balances in the body. The severity of CKD depends on how well the kidneys filter wastes from the blood.  It can progress quickly or take many years to develop.

Because there are little to no signs of the condition, most people are not even aware that they have kidney disease until it reaches the later stages, including kidney failure.

Risk factors for chronic kidney disease

High-risk populations include those with diabeteshigh blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and family history of kidney disease. Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney disease and high blood pressure is second leading cause; according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in 2006, 7 out of 10 new cases of ESRD listed either diabetes or high blood pressure as the main cause.

African Americans are nearly four times more likely to be diagnosed with kidney failure compared to Caucasians. Other high-risk groups include Hispanics, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and seniors 65 and older.

Who should be screened for chronic kidney disease?

Anyone 18 years old or older with diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease or a family history of kidney disease should be screened for kidney disease. If you live in an area that is offering a free screening, plan to attend. If not, visit your doctor and ask that you be screened for chronic kidney disease.

Are you at risk for kidney disease? Find out in less than 60 seconds by taking this short quiz.