Kidney disease: common, but mostly preventable

March 17, 2015 Providence Health Team

Kidney disease is mostly preventable.Your kidneys, those petite bean-shaped organs, are tucked underneath your diaphragm near your lower back. They’re shielded by your ribcage and are hardy and resilient. They act as your body’s filtering agent by clearing your blood of impurities. 

They aren’t immune to disease and abuse, however. Kidney disease is a common malady. Much of it, however, is preventable. For example, your kidneys are vulnerable to the effects of tobacco and alcohol. Diabetes and high blood pressure are leading causes of kidney failure. Some 25 percent of adults with diabetes have chronic kidney disease. For those with high blood pressure, 20 percent also have kidney disease. 

For 20 million Americans adults – 10 percent of the adult population – chronic kidney disease is part of their daily lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control. While it’s difficult to reverse, chronic kidney disease can be treated and kept from getting worse. 

Early stages of kidney disease often show no symptoms and go undetected. So, it’s good advice to pay attention to your blood pressure – and be aware of subtle changes in your health. If you notice you’re urinating more frequently, becoming increasingly fatigued, have swollen hands or feet, and experience muscle cramps, it’s time to schedule a physical exam. Your Providence primary care provider may run some blood and urine tests to better understand your condition. 

Tips for keeping kidney disease at bay 

If your provider determines you have kidney issues, don’t despair. You can take steps to protect your current and future health. Talk it over with your provider. Together you can develop a comprehensive health plan to combat it. 

Here are some areas to discuss:

  • Your diet: Moderate your intake of refined sugar and carbohydrates. They contribute to kidney stone production. Sugar also stimulates the pancreas to release insulin, which causes extra calcium to be excreted into the urine.
  • Watch your weight: Obesity has been linked to diabetes and hypertension. If you’re an overweight adult, you double your chances of developing chronic kidney disease. Hypertension damages the kidney’s blood vessels, limiting the organ’s ability to remove impurities from the blood.
  • Exercise: Getting your body moving on a regular basis is critical to burning excess calories. That will help mitigate your chances of developing diabetes and hypertension. There’s evidence that it’s also effective in controlling your body’s inflammatory tendencies that damage renal function.
  • Medication: Pharmaceutical therapies also can be used to keep your symptoms under control. 

Still have questions? 

If you’re looking for a primary care provider, use our online tools to find a provider or clinic in your neighborhood.

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