For Patients

Do you have a question about your kidney disease and/or kidney transplant?

Your Kidneys – Fast Facts

Kidney disease affects 15 percent of the world’s population and it frequently goes undetected until most kidney function is gone. Therefore, the name the “silent killer”. In the USA, more than 30 million people have kidney disease. The most common causes of kidney disease are diabetes and hypertension, followed by auto-immune diseases.

The kidneys are responsible for filtering the blood, removing toxins, extra salt and water from the body. The kidneys are also responsible for producing a hormone that prevents anemia and for generating activated vitamin D that maintains bone’s health. A failing kidney may lead to various symptoms, including fatigue, nausea, reduced appetite, shortness of breath, confusion and swelling.

Kidney transplantation is considered the best treatment strategy for patients with failing kidneys since it is associated with improved survival and better quality of life when compared to dialysis. The new kidney may come from someone you know or a person who has died. After a transplant, patients must take anti-rejection medications for life, in order to help prevent the body from rejecting the new organ. Since these medicines inhibit the immune system, patients on anti-rejection medications have a higher risk of developing infections and certain cancers. Other side effects of these medicines include diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.

In order to keep your kidneys healthy:

  • Reduce the salt in your diet (avoid canned foods, package meats and adding salt in the table). Salt preference is an acquired taste that can be unlearned. It takes about 6-8 weeks to get used to eating food with much lower quantities of salt, but once it’s done, it’s actually difficult to eat foods like potato chips because they taste way too salty! Select certain spices to help with transition. Same is true for sugar…
  • Measure your blood pressure at least once a year. High blood pressure is a major cause of kidney disease and you might have it without knowing.
  • Avoid taking NSAIDS regularly such as Ibuprofen/Motrin/Advil. Overtime, NSAIDS can significantly damage your kidneys. Acetaminophen/Tylenol is generally safer.
  • Next time you see your physician, ask about your kidney function! A simple urine test checking for protein spilling and a blood test (serum creatinine) can help find out how your kidneys are doing.

Contact

In case you still have questions about your kidney disease and/or kidney transplant, I would be happy to provide you with a second opinion (link).