- On July 22, 2017 /
- By davita /
- In Treatment Options
Measures which can help to preserve your remaining kidney function
A small amount of kidney function can go a long way to keeping you feeling well and free of major symptoms. The natural tendency is for remaining kidney function to get slowly worse, but the rate at which this occurs can be reduced. Ensuring good control of blood pressure is important in this respect. Damaged kidneys are also more prone to further damage and some drugs can cause major problems. These include remedies that can be bought over the counter, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents [eg Ibuprofen ((Nurofen) and Diclofenac (Voltarol)], which are used for arthritis and general aches and pains. It is advisable to check with one of your doctors before taking any new medicines. Avoiding dehydration is also important, especially during episodes of illness such as diarrhoea and/or vomiting, which may be going round the family.
Treatment of anaemia
Anaemia is very common in patients with kidney failure and tends to become more severe as the problem progresses. Normal kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoietin (EPO), which stimulates the bone marrow’s formation of red blood cells. Damaged kidneys produce less EPO, and that causes anaemia. Shortage of iron may add to the problem. Anaemia accounts for many of the symptoms of kidney failure, particularly tiredness and weakness. EPO is a very effective treatment for anaemia in kidney failure and usually needs to be given every week or fortnight by injection, initially by the district nurse but subsequently often by patients themselves or by their carers.
Generally it is advisable not to add salt to meals, as too much salt can cause you to retain fluid and have difficulty with blood pressure control. Salt substitutes are not a good idea; they usually contain potassium, which often needs to be restricted as well. Foods containing excess potassium such as bananas, oranges, and chocolate should be used as treats rather than as regular items of diet.
Reduce your risk now
If you have diabetes for 10 years or more, you are at most risk for kidney damage. Your best chance to avoid or slow damage is to protect your kidneys now. Your risk is greatest when blood sugar control is poor. Keeping blood sugar levels in your target range is key. This can lower your risk by 50 percent or more.
High blood sugar is one key risk factor for kidney damage. Two other important risk factors are:
- High blood pressure
- high cholesterol levels
High blood pressure can make kidney disease worse. This is why blood pressure control is a big factor. Good control of cholesterol is also crucial. Dealing with all three risk factors is your best defence.
New kidney-protective medications
Don’t wait for test results to show you that you have kidney damage. You can start with prevention now. Research has found new ways to help prevent disease years before it might develop. Of course, this is in addition to keeping risk factors under control.
Research has found that a type of drugs called “ACE inhibitors” can help. These drugs may delay the onset of protein in the urine. Usually doctors give these drugs to people to lower blood pressure. They also treat heart failure. But in a 2004 study, patients with type 2 diabetes took these meds. The results were good. People who took the drugs cut their risk of kidney damage in half. That’s a major discovery.
So, don’t wait until a problem is found. If you have diabetes and high blood pressure, your doctor may give you these meds. This will help to protect you from getting kidney disease. And it will do so before any signs of kidney damage appear.
Be kind to your kidneys
- Get tested every year. Your doctor should test to see if you have small amounts of protein in the urine. This is the first sign of kidney damage.
- Control your blood sugar levels. Work with your health care team to develop a blood testing schedule that is right for you.
- Monitor your blood pressure. Keep your blood pressure below 130/80 mm Hg. A diet that’s low in sodium and rich in fruits and veggies will help. Also, exercise on a regular basis and take the medicines your doctor prescribes.
- Control your cholesterol levels. You can protect your kidneys by lowering cholesterol. Eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet. Be sure to get regular exercise. And again, take the medicines your doctor prescribes.
- Ask your doctor if preventive meds are right for you. Talk with your doctor. Find out if you have high blood pressure or early signs of kidney damage. Taking ACE inhibitors or ARBs may help.