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NS Seniors: March is Kidney Health Month

Posted Mar 18, 2017

March is Kidney Health Month.

The kidneys clean our blood and flush extra water and toxins out of our system. There are many kinds of kidney disease – some are genetic and others develop as we grow older.

Kidney disease risk factors run higher in those with Diabetes, High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease. Also, taking over the counter/prescription meds such as Ibuprofen or Naproxin and others for extended periods of time can be a factor in harming your kidneys.

Many of us have kidney disease for many years without symptom until we are near kidney failure or End Stage Renal Failure. This is not the end of life but it is the end of kidney function and the beginning of an arduous battle ahead and life altering treatment regimes.

Regular blood testing by your physician is the only way to detect issues with your kidneys ahead of critical stages.

Uremia (Urine in the blood) occurs when the kidneys are no longer able to remove waste from the body. At this stage, you may have some symptoms such as:

Weight loss Fatigue
Weakness Nausea
Vomiting Bad taste in the mouth
Loss of appetite Restless legs
Shortness of breath Forgetfulness
Leg cramps Difficulty sleeping
Itching Cold intolerance
Chest pain Skin colour changes
Easy bruising Decreased sexual desire
Swelling in ankles and legs

Please know that these may be symptoms of other things as well but it doesn’t hurt to be aware and ask your doctor for a blood test (specifically the eGFR test to check kidney function).

Main courses of treatment for kidney disease are a combination of medications, diet & nutrition to maintain proper balances of chemicals controlled by your kidneys. Then, once that is no longer enough, dialysis and transplant are the only options as it becomes critical.

To help keep your kidneys healthy and prevent kidney disease – all the same old preventatives apply (because it is the best way to stay healthy in general):

  •  Keep fit – walk, run, swim, bike… whatever works for you –It helps keep your blood pressure down
  • Eat a healthy diet and watch your weight – Low salt, lots of fluids, veggies and fruit… balance
  • Monitor your blood sugars – Doctors and Pharmacists are ready to help – Especially if you are diabetic but even if you aren’t (50% of diabetics develop kidney disease)
  • Stop smoking – it slows the blood going through the kidneys plus it can increase the chance of kidney cancer by 50%!

Super foods for our kidneys are: Bell peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, onions, apples, cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, red grapes, egg whites, fish and olive oil.

Here are some kidney friendly recipes for you and they are on a site dedicated to kidney disease if you are interested in more information.

Now – go out for a walk, have a glass of water or a cup of tea and relax, knowing you are helping yourself stay healthy and strong.