Protect Your Kidneys With These Three Questions
Kidneys don’t get much airtime, so you’re not alone if these bean-shaped organs aren’t top of mind.
They are worth our attention though. Integral to your overall health, kidneys “clean” your blood by filtering bodily waste through your urine, help make red blood cells and regulate blood pressure.1
An estimated three million Canadians have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)2. Amazingly though, most are unaware of their disease.3 This is largely because associated signs and symptoms, such as increased or decreased urination, insomnia and fatigue, poor appetite, muscle cramps, nausea, or itchy skin,4 often do not appear until the disease has progressed.
Checking in on your kidney health is easier than you might think. And with new treatments for early-stage kidney disease that can slow disease progression, preserve function, and improve patient outcomes,5 testing and early intervention has never been so important.
Now that you know that CKD is prevalent, underdiagnosed, easy to screen, and treatable, it’s time for some self-advocacy. Here are three questions to ask your doctor that will protect your kidney health.
ASK YOUR DOCTOR
1. How is my kidney health?
First off, it’s important to know that anyone can get kidney disease, and so reviewing kidney health is wise for anyone and everyone.
That said, hypertension and diabetes are responsible for more than half of all CKD cases.6 If you experience these conditions, then your physician should certainly be monitoring your kidneys. Other risk factors include cardiovascular issues, older age, family history, obesity, and substance abuse7.
2. Can I have a requisition for two kidney tests: Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR) and Urine Albumin-Creatinine Ration (uACR)?
There are two simple and extremely worthwhile tests you should be requesting. The eGFR is a straightforward blood test which assesses kidney function and helps to identify the presence and stage of disease by measuring how effectively your kidneys are cleaning the toxins and waste in your blood.
The uACR is a simple urine test, which can indicate kidney damage by determining whether albumin, a type of protein normally found in the blood, has found its way into your urine.
3. What do my kidney test results mean and what’s next?
The results of the eGFR and uACR tests will give you a window into your kidney health, but your doctor may need to do a deeper dive. Ask your physician to go through the results with you and explain what is next. If all is well, ask your physician to test you periodically. If there any concerns, your physician may monitor you, do additional tests, and/or look at treatment options. If you are in the early stages of kidney disease, it’s a huge plus that you know about any decline, as there are effective treatment options that stop or slow down the worsening of kidney function. There are also treatment options should there be more significant kidney disease.8
Chances are you’ll have a clean bill of kidney health. But if you need to take measures to further protect and manage your kidney health, speaking up for these simple tests may make all the difference to your quality of life.
To learn more, visit carp.ca/kidney
2 https://www.cmaj.ca/content/185/9/E417; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2468024919300117?via%3Dihub
4 National Kidney Foundation. https://www.kidney.org/news/ekidney/august14/10_Signs_You_May_Have_Kidney_Disease; Webster AC et al. Lancet.2017;389:1238–1252.
5 Shlipak MG et al. Kidney Int. 2021;99:34-47
6 Xie Y et al. Kidney Int. 2018;94:567-581
7 Shlipak MG et al. Kidney Int. 2021;99:34-47.