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Kidney Care 101

“The kidneys have important jobs in your body,” says Mohamed Elshayeb, MD, St. Claire HealthCare Nephrologist. “Your kidneys are constantly filtering waste and extra fluid from the blood. Without kidneys, your body would quickly fill with toxins and your organs would not function properly. Your kidneys also create hormones that stabilize your blood pressure, keep your bones healthy and help make red blood cells. Because of all of these important roles your kidneys take on, it is vital to learn how to keep them healthy.”

How Can you Care for your Kidneys?

Keep yourself hydrated. Drinking water is one of the best ways to stay hydrated. Do so unless your healthcare provider has told you otherwise. You will need to drink more water in the summer than the winter.

Stay fit and active. Exercising helps keep your weight down and helps maintain blood pressure. Maintaining a healthy weight will decrease the stress your body puts on your heart, kidneys and joints.

Control your blood sugar. If you have diabetes, try to keep your blood sugar in your target range as much as possible. Diabetes is the most common reason for kidney failure.

Control your blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension) damages your arteries. In turn, your body struggles to supply enough blood to your kidneys, causing damage and disease. Hypertension is the second most common reason for kidney failure.

Eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight. Most problems come from high blood pressure and diabetes. Eat a healthy diet, especially low in salt and sugar, to avoid or control these issues.

Do not smoke. Quit or never start smoking. It damages your blood vessels which can decrease blood flow to the kidneys meaning they can’t function properly. Smoking can also cause high blood pressure along with a multitude of other health problems.

Avoid over the counter pills on a regular basis. Over the counter painkillers called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS such as Ibuprofen have been shown to cause damage and disease in the kidneys. Protect your kidneys and talk to your healthcare provider about other options if you take NSAIDs daily.

Get your kidneys checked! It’s as easy as going to your annual well visit. “When you visit your healthcare provider for your annual well visit, ensure they are doing your basic lab testing. Simple lab testing helps determine kidney disease and disorders,” says Elshayeb. “Most people who have kidney damage or disease show no symptoms until it is advanced, so going to your annual well visit for testing is something you should never skip. If kidney disease is caught early, it could be treated effectively.”

Work with your healthcare provider to control any conditions or diseases that may increase your risk of kidney damage and disease. The following may increase your risk of developing kidney disease: diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, family history of kidney disease, smoking, or abnormal kidney structure.

Mohamed Elshayeb, MD, St. Claire HealthCare Nephrologist is taking new referrals at the St. Claire Medical Pavilion located at 245 Flemingsburg Road (just off Second Street) in Morehead.