I will never forget the phone call I got from our elder when she was diagnosed with kidney disease. She didn’t know what to do or who to talk to. She was afraid. This was many years ago, long before her other health problems came into the picture. They caught it early, and that’s a good thing.
The next question was how did she develop it? Could it have been prevented? That is debatable. There are a few things that didn’t help and they could have been prevented. That doesn’t mean she would have been totally healthy today.
Age: Many organ related diseases come with advancing years and kidney disease is one of them. The blood supply to the kidneys may be lower. The number of nephrons (filters) decrease. Even the size of the kidneys may decrease. This makes it harder for them to do their job.
Demographics: Where you live and your racial background come into play with kidney disease. A study done in Canada suggests that those who live in remote areas and/or rural areas have a higher death rate from kidney disease. Caucasians have the lowest rate of kidney disease in the U.S.
Diabetes: With the increase in the number of diabetics we can anticipate an equal increase in kidney disease. High blood sugar makes the kidneys work harder, and that weakens them. This can be mitigated by proper blood sugar control.
High Blood Pressure: While diabetes can cause high blood pressure, this condition in and of itself can damage the kidneys. Think of it this way. If you put a coffee filter over the nozzle of a fire hose and turned the water on, what would happen to the filter? The force of the water would tear the filter apart.
Medications: Several classes of medications can cause kidney damage. Some of them are available over the counter and others might surprise you. NSAIDs, with the possible exception of Tylenol, are bad for the kidneys. So are most strong prescription pain relievers. Add to that antibiotics, diuretics and even red contrast dye for tests and you have a bunch of medications older people need.
If you are at risk for kidney disease, talk to your doctor. Blood tests can confirm if the disease is already present and they can monitor the condition of your kidneys over time. The best way to avoid the problems this disease cause is to find it when it first starts.