How can I stop kidney disease from progressing?
Stopping the progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD) can be as simple as changing daily habits. The most common way kidney disease accelerates is high blood pressure. Exercise and a healthy diet can greatly improve blood pressure, as well as, prescription medicines called ACE inhibitors and angiotensin-II receptor blockers. The ideal blood pressure for kidney disease patients is 130/80 or lower. Being under a doctor’s care can help determine if medication is necessary.
Smoking also advances kidney disease and interferes with high blood pressure medicine. According to the American Lung Association, as few as 1 to 4 cigarettes per day nearly triple the risk of death from heart disease. Cigarette smoke contains about 4,000 chemicals, 60 of which are known to cause cancer. The detrimental effects of smoking can multiply the complications for CKD patients.
It’s crucial to take all medication as prescribed by your doctor and keep scheduled doctor’s appointments. Skipping appointments or not taking medication (or taking too much) can reduce the effects of the drug or can be toxic. Half of the people who have chronic kidney disease don’t have symptoms. Unlike other conditions, feeling healthy doesn’t mean kidney disease is cured. CKD needs to be monitored regularly. It’s also very important to tell a doctor about over- the- counter medications and vitamins. Anti-inflammatory drugs including ibuprofen can be harmful to kidneys and multivitamins can cause spiked potassium levels.
How kidneys age
Kidneys are similar to skin. They both show signs of age. Even the healthiest person will most likely lose a bit of kidney function due to the natural process of growing old. How fast a person ages can be up to them. If the skin is exposed to too much sun, cigarettes, alcohol, abusive behavior or an unhealthy diet, it wrinkles quicker. Similarly, kidneys can be treated well to help maintain function. Unfortunately, chronic kidney disease can never get better, but you can help maintain and even prolong kidney function.
Exercise and diet are important tools to maintain health
Exercise is an excellent way to maintain a healthy body weight. Being over weight can lead to high blood pressure. By lowering blood pressure, it helps reduce the progression of kidney disease. Other benefits to exercise are building body strength and according to USA Today, can improve memory. Exercise increases the supply of oxygen to the brain, which helps expand memory. Walking 30 minutes a day can help provide better physical and mental health.
A proper diet is crucial to help lower blood pressure and aid kidney function. Here are some dietary considerations that should be discussed with your doctor:
- Protein – A protein heavy diet can strain kidney function. Protein includes: meat, fish, cheese, eggs, milk and nuts. Ask your doctor or a dietitian how much protein you should have each day to help prolong kidney function and maintain good health.
- Alcohol – Too much alcohol can increase blood pressure, interfere with medicines, prevent kidneys from maintaining proper fluid and mineral balance, and lead to dehydration. While alcohol in moderation can be okay, ask your doctor if it is okay for you to drink alcohol.
- Fluids – Fluid can build-up in CKD patients when kidney function declines. People on dialysis are generally given a fluid restriction, which includes foods such as: jelly, ice cream, milk on cereal, porridge, pudding, soup, gravy and sauces. Your doctor or dietitian will let you know if you need to restrict your fluid intake.
- Sodium – A salty diet can increase blood pressure and lead to thirstiness. A high-sodium diet can make a fluid restriction difficult. Talk to your doctor about how much sodium you can have each day and ask your dietitian for tips on eating a low-sodium diet.
- Potassium – When kidneys aren’t functioning properly, they cannot get rid of potassium in the blood. High levels of potassium can be dangerous to the heart. You may be instructed to limit high-potassium foods. Some foods high in potassium are: bananas, potatoes, tomatoes, kidney beans and milk products.
- Phosphorus (phosphate) – It’s a mineral found in the bones. Kidneys normally get rid of excess phosphorus, which can cause thinning of the bones, joint pain and can damage blood vessels. As kidney function declines, you may be instructed to limit phosphorus intake. Some foods containing high levels of phosphate are: colas, chocolate, citrus candy, processed meats, mayonnaise and hot dogs. People on dialysis are usually prescribed phosphorus binders, or phosphate binders, to absorb the phosphorus in the gastrointestinal system so it doesn’t get into the bloodstream.
- Cholesterol – Foods high in cholesterol, including red meat and dairy, may need to be reduced to protect your heart.
- Triglycerides – Triglycerides are a type of fat. People who have kidney disease often have higher triglyceride levels. Foods that contain high triglyceride are: alcohol, fried foods, fast foods, prepackaged snack foods, sugary foods, fruit juices and energy bars.
Follow your doctor’s advice and take prescribed medicines
Several conditions may accompany kidney disease and can be helped with prescription medication. The following conditions can be treated by your doctor:
- Fluid overload – It can cause swelling throughout the body and shortness of breath
- High blood pressure – Causes blood vessel, kidney and heart damage, which can lead to stroke, heart disease and circulation problems.
- Anemia – A deficiency of a hormone produced by the kidneys to stimulate red blood cell production from the bone marrow.
- Bone disease – A serious problem for CKD patients that causes joint pain and bone fractures.
- Acidaemia – An excess of acid waste in the blood.
- High cholesterol – It can lead to increased risk of heart disease.
- High triglycerides – May lead to high blood pressure and increase risk of heart disease.
Learning about chronic kidney disease, being aware of resources available for people with CKD and making healthy lifestyle choices can help you get the support you need to help slow the progression of chronic kidney disease.