Monday, June 15, 2009

10 Ways to Protect Your Kidneys

It appears that most people are in a state of denial when it comes to their Kidney disease risk. Fortunately, there are a few important prevention steps you can take.

I hope the guidelines below will get you started and help you better control your destiny and your health.

So, here is what I suggest you do:

1. Create a weight loss program

Keep in mind that significant weight gain leads to decreased Kidney function. Find out what your body mass index is (BMI) and compare it to a healthy weight. It’s essential to watch your diet and exercise on a regular basis. Make sure it becomes of part of your routine. I am not only talking about jogging or weight-lifting. Even things like gardening, housekeeping, walking up or down the stairs, or playing with your kids, can make a difference.

2. Keep track of your cholesterol

Did you know that Cholesterol affects 42 million Americans?

Hypercholesterolemia (high levels of cholesterol in the blood) is associated with heart disease, strokes and kidney disease. That is why controlling your cholesterol level is crucial to your well-being. What you should do is combine a healthy diet, proper exercise and perhaps medications, prescribed by your physician.

3. Quit smoking

No amount of smoking is safe. Smoking or using other tobacco products is an independent risk factor for Chronic Kidney Disease (CDK).

So, stop smoking NOW to minimize your risks for developing this debilitating condition. Moreover, it increases your heart rate and blood pressure.

I realize how hard it is for some people to kick the smoking habit. But you have no choice, if you want to protect your health.

4. Stay well-hydrated

Many people are chronically dehydrated. It is always important to drink plenty of water, especially in the heat of the summer. Individuals who suffer or have suffered from Kidney Stones in the past, should develop an appropriate hydration strategy. Just make sure you don’t consume too much water. Try to strike the proper balance when it comes to hydration. You may consult your physician, if necessary.
5. Develop a well-balanced Diet

A high-carbohydrate diet can make it harder to control Diabetes. Foods high in carbohydrates include breads, pastas, beans, potatoes, brand, rice and cereals. High salt intake has a direct link to hypertension. Many people with chronic kidney disease are more sensitive to salt intake and more likely to swell and have higher blood pressure readings. Furthermore, always remember that high fat diet can promote Atherosclerosis, which is one of the risk factors for Kidney disease.

6. Avoid certain medications and potentially harmful substances.

Illicit drug usage can worsen Kidney function. So, beware.

Even common over-the-counter medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (ex. ibuprofen or naproxen sodium), can result in serious Kidney ailments. Oftentimes, medications (ex. antibiotics) need to be dosed differently for people with CDK. Even certain herbs and supplements can cause harm. In my opinion, that risk may not be worth taking.

7. Take steps NOW to control your Diabetes.

I want you to be aware that Diabetes is the most frequent cause of End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). ESRD is the final stage of Chronic Kidney Disease, which advances from Stage 1 (first stage of CKD) to Stage 5 (ESRD). That’s when the loss of Kidney function progresses to the point when you need kidney replacement therapy. The therapy might include dialysis or transplantation.

If you carefully monitor your blood sugar levels, you are more likely to prevent the onset of small blood vessel disease, called microvascular disease. This disorder is often accompanied by leakage of protein into the urine and eventually leads to Diabetic Kidney damage.

8. Monitor your blood pressure.

Hypertension is the second most common cause of ESRD.

Studies show that High Blood Pressure affects 1 in 4 American adults.

To make matters worse, it usually results in heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, or Kidney disease.

To avoid a steep decline in Kidney function and protect your brain and heart from damage, you should constantly control your blood pressure. Regular testing will tell you what your numbers are and whether you need to take action.

9. Don’t skip regular check-ups

I cannot stress enough the importance of seeing your Primary Care Physician (PCP) regularly. Periodic assessment of your lab tests is essential for monitoring your health and risk factors for CDK. I wouldn’t recommend skipping any of your appointments. After all, your health is on the line.

10. Follow-up with your Kidney Specialist

Studies clearly indicate that people with CDK have better outcomes when they follow-up with their Nephrologists. Besides, later stages of CDK usually entail a few other complications or issues, such as Anemia, Bone Mineral Metabolism, Acid-Base Status, and preparation for Renal Replacement Therapy. That’s when seeing your Nephrologist will provide extra benefit and help you protect one of the most vital organs of your body – your Kidney.

Concluding Thoughts

Kidney Disease is on the rise in our country. The good news is, it is often avoidable. Certainly, early detection can prolong the longevity of your kidney function. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle does not have to be hard. That is why I would like you to include some of my suggestions into your regular routine and enjoy a healthy and productive life for years to come.

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