February 28, 2023
Kidney Disease is More Common Than You Think
March is National Kidney Month. As the 9th leading cause of death in the United States, kidney disease kills more people every year than breast cancer or prostate cancer.
Getting routine testing if you are at risk for kidney disease, quitting or avoiding smoking, eating a diet that is low in fat, sodium and sugar, and avoiding chronic use of medications like NSAIDs, & maintaining a healthy weight are all things you can do to help manage your risk of kidney disease.
What can you do to prevent kidney disease?
1. Get Tested! Ask your doctor for an ACR urine test or a GFR blood test annually if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, are over age 60, or have a family history of kidney failure. Have questions? Here’s everything you need to know about getting tested, click here.
2. Reduce NSAIDs. Over the counter pain medicines, such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), may alleviate your aches and pains, but they can harm the kidneys, especially if you already have kidney disease. Reduce your regular use of NSAIDs and never go over the recommended dosage.
3. Cut Highly Processed Foods. Processed foods can be significant sources of sodium, nitrates and phosphates, and have been linked to cancer, heart disease and kidney disease. What are processed foods? Find out more, here.
4. Reduce Sodium. Look for food labels with words like sodium free or salt free; or low, reduced or no salt or sodium; or unsalted or lightly salted.
Look for sodium on the food label. A food label showing a Percent Daily Value of 5% or less is low sodium. Also look for the amount of saturated and trans fats listed on the label.
5. Exercise Regularly & Maintain a Healthy Body Weight. Your kidneys like it when you exercise. Regular exercise will keep your bones, muscles, blood vessels, heart and kidneys healthy. Getting active for at least 30 minutes a day can also help you control blood pressure and lower blood sugar, which is vital to kidney health.
The NIH Body Weight Planner is an online tool to help you tailor your calorie and physical activity plans to achieve and stay at a healthy weight.
6. Stay Well Hydrated. Staying well hydrated helps your kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins from the body. Dehydration reduces blood flow to your kidneys, which can damage them.Drinking plenty of water, and avoiding sugary beverages, is also one of the best ways to avoid painful kidney stones. Those with kidney problems or kidney failure may need to restrict their fluid intake, but for most people, drinking 1.5 to 2 liters (3 to 4 pints) of water per day is a healthy target.
7. Limit Alcohol Consumption. Drink alcohol only in moderation: no more than one drink per day if you are a woman, and no more than two if you are a man. Drinking too much alcohol can damage the liver, heart, and brain and cause serious health problems.
One drink is:
- 12 ounces of beer
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1.5 ounces of liquor
8. Eat the right amount and the right types of protein. To help protect your kidneys. When your body uses protein, it produces waste. Your kidneys remove this waste. Eating more protein than you need may make your kidneys work harder.
- Eat small portions of protein foods.
- Protein is found in foods from plants and animals. Most people eat both types of protein. Talk to your dietitian about how to choose the right combination of protein foods for you.
Following these tips can help you prevent disease or slow its progression. The most important thing you can do is manage your diabetes and high blood pressure.
Living a healthy lifestyle by eating right, being active, and not smoking is another key to keeping your kidneys healthy.
When Should I see a Kidney Specialist?
A urologist can help diagnose kidney problems such as kidney infection, kidney disease, kidney stones, and more. Additionally, urologists work with people who have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Because your kidneys are responsible for filtering your blood, they can be greatly impacted by high blood pressure.
Signs you have kidney disease and should see urologist include:
- You’re more tired, have less energy or are having trouble concentrating.
- You’re having trouble sleeping
- You have dry and itchy skin.
- You feel the need to urinate more often.
- You see blood in your urine.
- Your urine is foamy.
- You’re experiencing persistent puffiness around your eyes.
If your kidneys aren’t working properly, you may notice one or more of the following signs:
- Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- An upset stomach or vomiting.
- Confusion or trouble concentrating.
- Swelling, especially around your hands or ankles.
- More frequent bathroom trips.
- Muscle spasms (muscle cramps)
- Dry or itchy skin.