The kidneys are the silent heroes of the human body. They remove waste from the body, balance fluids, release hormones that regulate blood pressure, control the production of red blood cells, and more. Unfortunately, kidney disease is also commonly known as the “silent disease.” During the early stages of kidney disease, there are usually no symptoms. That’s why caring for the kidneys and keeping them as healthy as possible is so vital.
March is National Kidney Month, and it’s a great time to focus on how to prevent kidney disease and keep the kidneys in tip top shape.
Who is At Risk of Kidney Disease?
Anyone can be diagnosed with kidney disease. However, there are some factors that can put a person at a higher risk for developing this disease, including:
- High blood pressure
- Being of African-American, Hispanic, Native American, or Asian decent
- Family history of kidney disease
- Being over the age of 60
While a person may have one or more risk factors for kidney disease, that doesn’t mean that they will inevitably develop it. The good news is, there are a number of steps that can be taken in order to lower risks and prevent kidney disease.
How Can I Prevent Kidney Disease?
If you don’t currently have kidney disease, prevention is key. The following tips can help in caring for the kidneys:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a kidney-friendly diet that includes:
- Foods that are low in salt
- Plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Low cholesterol foods
- Stay as physically active as possible
- Properly manage diabetes and keep blood sugar levels under control
- Take all prescribed medications as directed
- Get your kidney function checked during annual checkups
How to Manage Kidney Disease
Once kidney disease has developed, caring for your kidneys remains imperative. Keeping the kidneys in good shape can help reduce symptoms and prolong kidney function to avoid dialysis or the need for a kidney transplant. Once kidney disease has been diagnosed, it can be addressed through the following lifestyle changes:
- Maintaining a healthy, kidney-friendly diet as determined by a physician or dietician
- Medication adherence, particularly for drugs that lower blood pressure
- Preventing kidney infections
- Avoiding certain over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, as well as certain antibiotics that may damage the kidneys
- Regularly monitor kidney health with your health care provider
When a person’s kidneys can no longer effectively remove waste and fluid from the body, kidney dialysis is often required. Kidney dialysis essentially takes on the job of the kidneys in order to maintain balance within the body, such as:
- Eliminating waste and extra fluids to keep them from building up inside the body
- Maintaining safe levels of minerals in the blood
- Regulating blood pressure
There are two types of dialysis available for people with advanced kidney failure:
- Hemodialysis (HD): This type of kidney dialysis uses a machine called a dialyzer to remove waste and extra fluid from the blood. It then returns the filtered blood back into the body. Treatments usually last about four hours and usually need to be done three times per week. Hemodialysis can be done in a hospital, dialysis center, or at home.
- Peritoneal Dialysis (PD): With peritoneal dialysis, blood is filtered inside the body. Instead of using a machine, the lining of the abdomen is used as a filter. A catheter is then used to drain off the filtered fluid. This type of dialysis can be done anywhere, provided you have the supplies needed for the treatment.
The ability to receive dialysis at home can help to ease the stress of the procedure. A nurse, such as those provided by Nightingale Homecare, can help ensure that home dialysis treatment is a smooth process and that any negative side effects are noticed and treated as soon as possible.
Caring for the kidneys is extremely important as a person ages, and even more so should kidney disease develop. Nightingale Homecare’s Phoenix-area senior care experts are here to help individuals manage kidney disease symptoms and live healthier lives in a variety of ways. We can assist with meal planning and preparation for specialized diets, provide medication reminders, and much more. To learn more about how our nursing and non-medical in-home care services can help you or a loved one with customized, compassionate care, give us a call today at 602-926-1157.