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    You have to Respect the Kidneys

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | March 13th, 2022

    You have to Respect the Kidneys

    “I did not know high blood pressure can affect my kidneys.”

    “I did not know about asking my health care provider to check my kidney function.”

    “I did not know taking Ibuprofen can affect my kidneys.”

    When I wrote the blog titled, Respect the Kidney last year, the feedback was overwhelming. I guess we spend so much time talking about cancer and heart disease, the kidneys get left behind. March is National Kidney Month and we should use this time to remind ourselves of the importance of our kidneys.

    Facts from the CDC, Chronic Disease in the United States, 2021:

    • Thirty-seven million people are estimated to have chronic kidney disease (CKD).
    • As many as 9 in 10 adults with CKD do not know they have CKD.
    • CKD is slightly more common in women than men.
    • CKD is more common in Black adults than in any other ethnic group.
    • Diabetes and high blood pressure are the more common cause of CKD.

    The National Kidney Foundation describes the kidneys as powerful chemical factories that perform the following functions:

    • Remove waste products from the body
    • Remove drugs from the body
    • Balance the body’s fluids
    • Release hormones that regulate blood pressure
    • Produce the active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones
    • Control the production of red blood cells – these are the cells that send oxygen throughout the body

    For National Kidney Month, The National Kidney Foundation would like each of us to Take Five for Your Kidneys. We can do 5 simple things to protect our kidneys:

    1. Get tested! Ask your doctor for a urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR) urine test or a glomerular filtration rate (GFR) blood test annually if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, are over age 60 or have a family history of kidney failure.
    2. Reduce NSAIDs. Over-the-counter pain medicines, such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), may alleviate your aches and pains, but they can harm the kidneys, especially if you already have kidneys disease. Reduce your regular use of NSAIDs and never go over the recommended dosage. Examples of NSAIDs are Ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil.
    3. Cut the Processed Foods. Processed foods can be significant sources of sodium (salt), nitrates and phosphates, and have been linked to cancer, heart disease and kidney disease. Try adopting the DASH diet to guide your healthy eating habits.
    4. Exercise Regularly. Your kidneys like it when you exercise. Regular exercise will keep your bones, muscles, blood vessels, heart, and kidneys healthy. Getting active for at least 30 minutes a day can also help you control blood pressure and lower blood sugar, which is vital to kidney health.
    5. Control Blood Pressure and Diabetes. High blood pressure and diabetes are the leading causes of kidney disease and kidney failure. Managing high blood pressure and strict control of blood sugar levels can slow the progression of kidney disease. Speak with your doctor if you are having trouble managing diabetes or high blood pressure.

    Last year, Stay Well Hydrated was part of the take five for your kidneys. It was replaced with Control Blood Pressure and Diabetes. I still believe that Stay Well Hydrated is essential for keeping your kidneys healthy.  Staying well hydrated helps your kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins from your body. Drinking plenty of water, and avoiding sugary beverages, is also one of the best ways to avoid painful kidney stones. Those with kidney problems or kidney failure may need to restrict their fluid intake.

    Respect the kidneys. For more information on chronic kidney disease:

    Center for Disease Control and Prevention

    National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney disease (NIDDK)

    National Kidney Foundation

    2 Responses to “You have to Respect the Kidneys”

    1. Linda K. Jackson says:

      OMGOODNESS! This article was sooo good, and soooo important! I’m one of those people with hypertension, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that my PCP explained how hypertension can affect the kidneys! It is definitely NOT talked about enough!!!!!!! Please do encourage your patients, and PCPs to become informed about/discuss the importance of kidney function, and kidney care!!!!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    With her trademark wit and straightforward communication, Dr. Osuagwu continues to dole out valuable medical advice using the letter form and addressing women’s health conditions and issues in a method that was praised for its innovative approach in her earlier award-winning book, Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice from a Gynecologist. In this book, each letter is paired with reference sources and statistics about the condition that is the subject of the letter.

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    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

    The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.

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