Harvard Men's Health Watch

Protect your kidneys

When men think about their urinary systems, they usually focus on the lower urinary tract. It's understandable since lower urinary tract symptoms are a major cause of bother and discomfort for gents who have benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). But men should also spend a few minutes thinking about the upper urinary tract, especially the kidneys.

The kidneys don't get the respect they deserve. That's understandable, too, since many kidney diseases don't produce any symptoms until damage is severe. But that makes it all the more important for you to understand your kidneys, learn how to work with your doctor to spot problems early on, and — above all — know how to keep these vital organs healthy.

The burden of kidney disease

According to the National Kidney Foundation, 26 million Americans — about one of every nine adults — have chronic kidney disease. Another 20 million are at risk, but most don't know it. And men are more vulnerable than women.

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