We used to think that once a person damaged their kidneys, there was no way to stop it from progressing. Now medical experts believe there’s lots we can do to slow the progression of kidney disease and avoid serious medical intervention.
Lei Lei Wu, pharmacist at Gray’s Compounding Pharmacy in Kimberley offers these four facts to help us better understand kidney disease.
1. Medication may negatively impact your kidney function
“Many medications can have a negative impact on a person’s kidney function. Medications may also increase the burden on the kidneys when they’re prescribed together,” Lei Lei says.
Many common medications are excreted via the kidneys. It’s important to monitor the pill burden on our kidneys to ensure its function is not negatively affected over time.:
- Cough and cold medicine
- Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications
- Prescription medication to manage high blood pressure
- Prescription medication for certain psychiatric disorders
Gray’s Compounding Pharmacy offers comprehensive medication reviews, and may be able to adjust your medication to reduce the impact on kidney function. If you are taking five prescription medications or more, this service is free, and covered by BC Health.
2. Kidney-friendly foods
“One in ten Canadians has some form of kidney disease — it’s very common, and not everyone experiences dialysis or kidney failure. But a kidney-friendly diet can significantly help to slow the progression of the disease,” Lei Lei says.
Cut down on salt and sugar as much as possible, and try to eat a moderate amount of potassium.
5 foods to support a healthy kidney:
- Olive oil
- Skinless chicken breasts
3. Other health conditions put stress on kidney function
High blood pressure and diabetes can both affect kidney function over time.
“High blood pressure can damage our small blood vessels, which can lead to kidney damage over time. It’s not something that happens right away, but micro damages accumulate over time and can significantly decrease kidney function over time,” Lei Lei says.
One of the strategies to control blood pressure is quitting smoking. Smoking increases blood pressure and causes plaque build-up in small blood vessels, narrowing and rupturing over time. The pharmacists at Gray’s Pharmacy can help you find the right product to wean off cigarettes.
Excess blood sugar due to diabetes can and will damage kidneys over time.
“It’s not hopeless — if you’re dealing with high blood pressure, diabetes or some other chronic condition, your kidneys don’t have to suffer. It’s just extra motivation to manage those conditions and get them under control, so it doesn’t lead to further damage.”
4. Know the signs of kidney damage
Catching kidney damage early is crucial to stabilizing symptoms and stopping the progression of the disease. Talk to your doctor if you think you’re at-risk, and have a pharmacist conduct a medication review to reduce strain on kidney function.
“Foamy urine may indicate kidney disease. It tells us there’s excess protein in the urine, which is usually a sign that the kidney isn’t functioning properly. Injured kidneys excrete a protein called albumin, one of the components of egg whites. When we wash egg batter under running water, a foamy layer appears. When people pee and see foamy urine, it’s usually a sign of protein in the urine, which may suggest chronic kidney disease.”
In later stages, kidney disease causes swelling, vitamin deficiencies and other symptoms that seriously affect your quality of life. Treating late stage kidney disease requires multiple medications and dialysis, but if you care for your kidneys early you can avoid many of these issues.