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How Are Your Kidneys? March Is National Kidney Month.

Posted Mar 01 2010 2:38pm

Did you see the letter today in the Dear Abby newspaper column?

What’s a newspaper? Ok, for those of you who only get your news online you can see Dear Abby at this link .

In today’s Dear Abby column, a woman wrote in to report that she was diagnosed with kidney problems but has them under control and is feeling great. Last year about this time, the woman saw a letter in Dear Abby about the National Kidney Foundation and their Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP). She got the free screening and discovered that her kidneys were not functioning well.

As a result of the screening information, the woman’s doctor took here off of two medications that may have been too much for her kidneys to handle. Her doctor also recommended major diet and exercise changes.

What are kidneys? What the point? Here is a fun, fast quiz prepared by the National Kidney Foundation to help you understand what all this means to you.

26 million Americans have chronic kidney disease. That’s 1 in 9 adults.

By becoming aware of the risk factors, getting screened and making changes to diet and exercise, you could add happy, pain-free years to your life. Your kidneys filter toxins out of your body. If they don’t work, the toxins build up in your body.

Ever had a toilet back up in your home? It’s kind of the same thing.

It has been three years this month since my father died. As you know from reading my posts, Dad had a lot of medical problems. But the death certificate stated only one reason for his death—end stage renal disease.

In other words, his kidneys failed.

To my knowledge, my father’s regular doctor didn’t do screenings for kidney problems during the time I was his caregiver. During Dad’s next to last hospital stay in January 2007, the specialists couldn’t offer any hope. His kidneys were too far gone.

They recommended dialysis. After six weeks it was clear that dialysis wasn’t working. Dad got worse rather than better.

“ If he had only followed up when we first saw problems,” the doctor said. He showed me the records from 2004. Dad had been hospitalized with chest pains. The doctors did a routine set of blood and urine tests and noted that his kidney function was reduced.

The hospital staff advised my father to follow up with a kidney specialist after he got out of the hospital.  He didn’t.

This hospital has a sophisticated electronic medical records system. These systems only work, though, when ALL of the doctors involved have access to them. His regular doctor may not have gotten those records because she wasn’t contracted with that particular hospital. So she may not have known to track for kidney problems.

When I became Dad’s caregiver in 2005, I didn’t know that there was a problem with his kidneys. Diabetes, yes. Heart disease, yes. Stroke, yes. Prostate cancer, yes.

Because his vascular dementia was getting worse, my father may not have even understood the need to make changes to keep his kidneys functioning. He was more concerned with making it into the bathroom on time.

His regular doctor had prescribed Lasix, a diuretic, a number of times to get rid of the swelling in his ankles and legs. Unfortunately, Lasix can be hard on your liver and kidneys. According to the drug manufacturer, the prescribing physician should be closely monitoring the function of those organs with blood tests.

So, here is the page on the National Kidney Foundation website with a list of free screening dates and locations. If your family has a history of kidney problems, you have high blood pressure or you take a number of prescription drugs, get screened.

Next year at this time, you could be the one writing about how your life has changed for the better.

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© 2010 CK Wilde. All Rights Reserved. I did not receive any compensation from the websites mentioned in this article. Some of the links on this website connect to affiliate programs that provide a small commission (books from Amazon.) Please feel free to link to this post but you must have prior written permission (please use my Contact form) to reproduce this post either whole or in part.

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