Many people tend to put their kidney health on the back burner until they experience problems with it.
Don’t allow yourself to fall into the same trap. Some medical conditions, your genes, and even your diet or lifestyle habits can very well ignite the development of serious kidney conditions, notably chronic kidney disease (CKD) and kidney failure.
Below, you’ll learn about the three specific reasons you should see a nephrologist (kidney doctor) for a checkup.
Reason #1 You Have Diabetes.
Diabetes is a major risk factor for kidney disease. According to the National Kidney Foundation, roughly 30 percent of people with type 1 (juvenile-onset) diabetes and up to 40 percent of those with type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes will eventually suffer from diabetic nephropathy (diabetic kidney disease) and, ultimately, kidney failure.
Each of your kidneys is made up of roughly a million tiny filtering units called nephrons. Over time, poorly controlled diabetes can cause your nephrons to slowly thicken and get damaged. When your nephrons aren’t working properly, they leak a protein called albumin into your urine, which is supposed to be kept in your blood. This is referred to albuminuria (also proteinuria), which causes frequent urination; fatigue; lack of appetite; muscle cramping at night; swelling in your hands, feet, and belly (edema); among other symptoms.
If you have type 1 diabetes, screening for diabetic nephropathy is often recommended starting five years after your diagnosis. If you have type 2 diabetes, your kidney doctor may recommend that you start screening at the time of your diagnosis.
Screening includes urine test to detect albumin in your urine and blood test to see how well your kidneys are functioning. If your nephrologist determines that you have kidney disease, they will likely recommend that you get follow-up testing at regular intervals to monitor your condition, whether it has remained stable or it has progressed.
Reason #2 You Have Resistant Hypertension
Twenty-percent of people with hypertension are resistant, which means their blood pressure levels are not managed despite aggressive treatment.
Resistant hypertension substantially increases your risk for kidney failure. This is because high blood pressure can put increased stress on the blood vessels in your kidneys, causing them to narrow. This leads to reduced blood flow to your kidneys and, ultimately, chronic kidney disease.
Your kidney doctor can sort through your symptoms, order blood/urine tests, and work with your care team to take full control of your blood pressure by adjusting your medications and addressing any conditions that may have contributed to it to reduce your chances of developing CKD.
Reason #3 You Have a Family History of Kidney Disease.
Kidney disease, as studies have shown, has a genetic component. Thus, if you have a first-degree relative (i.e., father, mother, or full sibling) who has kidney failure, you should get screened for CKD.
Kidney Doctor in Natick and Norfolk, MA
If you’re concerned about your kidney health or function, visit one of the offices of Commonwealth Nephrology Associates. Our nephrologists are board certified and highly experienced in all areas of renal disease and treatment. In addition to providing outstanding medical care, we delight in equipping patients with all the resources to guide them along the path to optimal kidney health.