To the editor:
As everyone knows, healthy kidneys are important for healthy living. What people might not know is that tomorrow, March 8, has been designated World Kidney Day.
Injuries to the kidneys can cause damage to all other organs in the body unless treated and controlled. Our kidneys filter 50 gallons of blood (200 liters) daily. The kidneys' job is to keep cleaning blood of metabolic wastes as it circulates in the body.
Three important factors in preventing kidney damage are: 1) Taking care of your blood pressure; 2) Controlling your blood sugar if you are a diabetic; and 3.) Avoiding drugs that cause kidney damage.
Reducing salt intake is one way you can keep the blood pressure under control. Even if you do not add salt to your food, salt is hidden in most prepared foods. It is well-known that all processed foods (TV dinners, restaurant food, pastry, canned food, etc.) have excess added salt. A recent report identified regular bread as the most significant source of excess salt — quite an eye-opener for the public.
Among the nonprescription medications that can damage the kidneys are ibuprofen (Advil, etc.) and naproxen (Aleve, etc.), which we take for chronic pain, headaches, migraine and arthritis of any kind.
Blood pressure normally tends to increase as we age, with the systolic BP (the upper number) becoming more important over the age of 55. If your systolic BP is over 150 or diastolic BP is equal to or higher than 90, it is time to consult a physician.
An important kidney test is checking urine for protein, which can be an early warning sign of kidney damage. Any amount of protein in urine is abnormal. This is a two-minute test any health care facility can do for you.
There are 500,000 people on kidney dialysis in the U.S. and 26 million Americans with kidney damage. The majority of kidney injuries occur due to poor control of blood pressure and blood sugar if you are a diabetic. You can avoid problems if you control both.
I urge everyone on the North Shore to take care of their kidneys and use World Kidney Day as an occasion to do so.
I challenge you to test your kidney IQ at www.kidney.org/kidneyDisease/kidneyQuiz.cfm. It's fun, quick and informative.
Kevin Koshy, M.D.
North Shore Medical Center