Your Kidneys & You!

Approximately 1 in 3 U.S. adults are at risk for kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation. However, much like heart disease, kidney disease may show with little to no symptoms, and can go unnoticed until it has progressed to a more severe disease. This is why it is important to understand your risks of developing kidney disease and have your kidneys checked regularly. Keeping up with your kidney health can prevent the development of kidney disease.

 

Why Are Kidneys Important?

Your kidneys are considered one of your body’s major filters. They help to remove waste from the body and help balance your body’s fluids and minerals. By doing so, they help keep your blood pressure stable and remove toxins from the body. They also help in making red blood cells, balancing hormone levels, and keeping your bones healthy.

 

However, when kidney disease is present, these important functions can be slowed or possibly stopped. What factors can increase your risk of kidney disease?

 

Risk Factors of Kidney Disease:

Major risk factors for kidney disease include:

  • Diabetes

  • High blood pressure

  • Being 60 years of age or older

  • Having a family history of chronic kidney disease

  • Being of Hispanic, African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, or American Indian descent

If you feel you are at risk of developing kidney disease, talk with your healthcare provider about getting your kidneys checked.

 

Again, many forms of kidney disease present with no symptoms until later stages of the disease course, however, it is also important to watch for any warning signs of kidney disease. Some warning signs of kidney disease include:

  • High blood pressure

  • Blood and/or protein in the urine

  • More frequent urinations or difficult or painful urinations

  • Swelling in the hands and feet

If you notice some of these signs, it is important to contact your healthcare provider to look at how your kidneys are doing. Do not assume that you have kidney disease until a diagnosis has been confirmed by your doctor, because there are other reasons why some of these symptoms may be happening.

 

How is Kidney Disease Tested?

There are simple tests that can be done by your doctor to check for kidney disease. The first test, called the Albumin Creatinine Ratio, is a urine test that estimates how much protein may be present in the urine. Higher amounts of protein present in the urine may mean the presence of kidney disease. The second test, called the Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR), looks at how well the kidneys are removing wastes from the body. Generally, if the GFR is greater than 90, then your kidneys are considered healthy. GFR’s less than 60 for 3 months or more may mean that kidney disease is present. Having your kidney function checked regularly can lead to early detection of kidney disease and can help prevent the worsening of kidney disease.

 

Kidney Disease Treatment

If kidney disease is diagnosed, here are some things you can do to improve your kidney health and prevent further damage to the kidneys:

  • Taking your medications as prescribed by your doctor or kidney specialist

  • Keeping your blood pressure and/or diabetes managed

  • Have your blood cholesterol levels checked regularly

  • Eat a healthier diet

  • Exercise

  • Stop smoking

If you are in the later stages of kidney disease some options to consider include kidney transplants or dialysis. Eastland has a local dialysis center, U.S. Renal Care - Eastland Dialysis and Home Dialysis, located next to the Woodland Assisted Living community. For more information, you can visit www.usrenalcare.com/locations/eastland.

 

U.S. Renal Care - Eastland Testimonial

“One of the most prominent memories of my grandmother’s funeral, was the row of dialysis nurses that came to show their respects. Dressed in their scrubs, they had somehow fit my grandmother into their busy schedule one last time. The nurses at U.S. Renal Care of Eastland saw my grandmother at least three times a week in her final year and were like a second family. The nurses didn’t just care for my grandmother, they also educated and supported my grandfather as he cared for her. The staff at U.S. Renal Care of Eastland truly care about their patients and their family members. From the Little Family, we thank you.” -Ashley

 

Consider Being an Organ Donor

There are many individuals living with chronic kidney disease who are in need of a transplant. On average, over 3,000 people in the U.S. are added each month to the kidney transplant waiting list. Due to organ donation shortages, many of these individuals are not able to get the help they need. If you would like to become an organ donor, you can visit the Donate Life America website (https://registerme.org/) and join your state’s online registry for donation. It is also important that you let your family members and loved ones know your wishes. By giving an organ donation, you can help someone have a second chance at life.

 

 

References:

  1. National Kidney Foundation website. https://www.kidney.org/. Accessed March 3, 2018.

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