THAT NEIGHBORHOOD FREE HEALTH CLINIC
March is National Kidney Month
Startling facts about Kidney disease:
- 1 in 3 American adults are at risk for Kidney Disease
- 37 million adults do have kidney disease but most are not aware of it
- 100,000 people are on the kidney transplant list
What do your kidneys do & why are they so important?
Everyone has two kidneys, each the size of an adult fist, located in on either side of the lower back just below the rib cage. Kidneys keep your body in balance:
- Help remove wastes & excess fluid
- Filter the blood
- Control the production of red blood cells
- Make vitamins that control growth
- Release hormones that help control your blood pressure (BP)
- Regulate calcium & potassium levels in your body
When an individual has kidney disease—some or all of the functions listed above are interrupted. Many of the kidney’s jobs are not able to be done! Some of the causes of kidney disease are:
- Diabetes is the leading cause of serious kidney disease
- High blood pressure (BP) is another cause of kidney disease
- Glomerulonephritis is a disease that causes inflammation of the kidney’s tiny filtering sacs (the glomeruli)
- Polycystic kidney disease is the most common inherited kidney disease.
- Kidney stones & urinary tract infections can damage the kidneys if left untreated
- Congenital diseases such as Goodpasture’s Syndrome & Reflux Disorder may also affect the function of the kidneys.
- Over use of over-the-counter drugs or illegal drug use can permanently damage the kidneys
Many kidney diseases can be treated successfully. Careful control of diseases such as diabetes or high BP can help! Also changing diet & taking BP medication can help prevent or slow the progression of kidney disease.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) refers to reduced kidney function that stretches over 3 months or longer. CKD has many different stages. In early to middle stages of the disease, an evaluation by a kidney specialist may show an underlying problem that may be correctable so kidney function can be restored. Sometimes, lost kidney function can’t be restored and steps can be taken to protect remaining kidney function in order to maintain a relatively normal life and life span. The final stages—end stage kidney disease—forces treatment options such as dialysis or transplant.
Advance kidney failure is treated with dialysis—hemodialysis (cleanses the blood) or peritoneal dialysis (uses abdominal filtration to cleanse bodily waste products). There is also success with kidney transplantation with people with chronic kidney failure.
Many forms of kidney disease do not produce symptoms until late into the course of the disease. It often goes unnoticed initially, and leaves significant kidney damage when you are finally diagnosed—it has a silent onset. There are 6 warning signs of kidney disease:
- High blood pressure
- Blood and/or protein in the urine
- Creatinine blood level greater than 1.2 (women) or 1.4 (men)
- A filtration rate (GFR) less than 60
- More frequent urination especially at night; difficult or painful urination; puffiness around eyes, swelling in hands or feet.
What can I do to protect my kidneys and maintain the health of my kidneys?
- Control blood pressure—This is the most important factor in managing all types of CKD. Some people may not have high BP in the earliest stages of CKD, but their blood pressure eventually will rise. Two of the most common drugs prescribed to treat high BP related to CKD are ACE inhibitors and Angiotensin II blockers (ARBs)
- Control blood sugar—If you have diabetes, tightly controlling your blood sugar may help prevent further damage to your kidneys. It may also diminish your risk of cardiovascular disease and other complications of diabetes, such as nerve damage and blindness.
- Further protect your cardiovascular health—Protecting your heart and blood vessels improves your kidneys function. CKD is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. For older adults with CDK, the risk of dying of heart problems is greater than the risk of eventually requiring dialysis. Managing your LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) will help protect your kidneys as well as your heart. Maintaining a healthy weight will help keep your BP and blood sugar down. If you smoke—stopping is a game changer for heart as well as kidney health!
- Using medication wisely—Some medications can harm your kidneys and cause CKD. Long term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs—such as Advil, Motrin and Aleve—can lead to kidney damage. Always check with your healthcare provider if medication is safe for your kidneys and take only as directed. Some imaging test (CT scans) use dyes that is injected into your veins, always alert medical staff if you have CKD so another imaging test could be used to decrease the risk to your kidneys.
Dietary changes can help manage CKD—
- Salt—Eating too much salt can result in excess fluid retention, which can stress the heart and kidneys. Avoid products with added salt, including frozen dinners, canned soups and fast foods. Also avoid salty snacks, canned vegetables, processed meats and cheeses.
- Potassium—Damaged kidneys do not filter excess potassium out of the blood, which can result in heart problems. Choose LOW potassium foods: apples, cabbage, carrots, green beans, grapes and strawberries. Avoid HIGH potassium foods: bananas, oranges, potatoes, spinach and tomatoes.
- Protein—Limiting your intake of animal protein—meat and eggs—can help prevent CKD from getting worse. Protein is broken down into waste by the kidneys, taking in too much can overstress a fragile kidney. Choose foods that are plant based: beans and legumes.
Early detection is KEY!! If you have a personal or family history of diabetes, high BP or kidney disease, it is important to have your kidney function checked regularly. Ask your healthcare provider about blood/urine tests that can detect early CKD. Sources: National Kidney Foundation & Mayo Clinic Newsletter