Sharon Reuben, MD - Freeman Kidney Center Nephrologist
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects 1 in 7 Americans and presents without any noticeable symptoms in the vast majority of patients upon initial diagnosis.
When referred to the clinic, many of my patients do not realize that their CKD is something they may have already had or have been at risk for quite some time.
Our kidneys are responsible for a number of functions: filtering blood for toxins, removing waste and excess fluids from our body, regulating blood pressure, balancing important electrolytes and minerals, keeping acids in balance, and stimulating red blood cell production, amongst many other processes. When our kidneys are compromised in their ability to carry out any of these tasks, the consequences can be debilitating and even life-threatening.
CKD progresses from stage 1 to stage 5, after which point patients require kidney replacement therapy in the form of dialysis or kidney transplant. Unfortunately, many patients are at risk to progress very quickly to kidney failure, whereas others can maintain stable kidney function or worsen only very gradually. Disease progression can often be slowed down when patients take an active role in making healthy lifestyle changes.
The most common causes of CKD in Americans are diabetes and high blood pressure. Roughly 37% of the US population have either diabetes or pre-diabetes, and 45% of US adults have high blood pressure. Both diseases are perpetuated by unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Making strides towards more disciplined food selections, portion-control, increasing physical activity, and eliminating smoking will help decrease the risk of CKD. These healthy lifestyle choices can also slow CKD progression.
While smoking is a well-known cause of cancer, it is important for patients to understand that it also leads to heart, lung and kidney disease as well. Smoking increases blood pressure and narrows blood vessels in various organs, decreasing oxygen and precious nutrients that are vital to normal body functioning.
Always let your doctor know if you are taking additional supplements or over-the-counter medications. Be sure to take medications only as prescribed. Many medications can be affected by CKD if the kidneys cannot process those substances as a result of being damaged. Likewise, some medications contribute to developing CKD such as antacid medications and the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Examples of antacids that can affect CKD risk are pantoprazole, omeprazole and esomeprazole. Examples of NSAIDs are ibuprofen, naproxen, Advil®, Aleve®, Motrin®, Mobic® (also known as meloxicam) and Celebrex® (also known as celecoxib).
In the kidney clinic, we are careful to make sure our patients are on the correct medications and doses for their kidney function. We work with you to make the necessary adjustments to ensure you have the information you need to understand what steps you can take to regain control of your health.
Meet regularly with your healthcare provider to screen for risk factors for kidney disease. You may benefit from a kidney consultation.
Patients who require dialysis management face several changes, and with those changes sometimes come unexpected challenges. Freeman Health System helps dialysis patients who are in financial need through the Freeman Kidney Fund, which has been used to help patients with transportation, acquiring medications and other aspects of treatment. The March O’ The Kidney Walk is an annual fundraising event for the Freeman Kidney Fund. We are excited to announce this will be held May 8, 2021. You can register at www.freemanhealth.com/marchothekidney. We look forward to seeing you there.