Keeping your kidneys healthy

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Monday, January 14, 2013

THE kidneys are a mighty pair of organs: they filter and excrete waste products including toxic wastes; secrete substances to maintain acid-base, electrolytes and fluid balances; secrete vital hormones like rennin, erythropoietin and prostaglandin; aid in reabsorbing of nutrients like amino acids, glucose and others; and regulate blood pressure.

Knowing how the kidneys work will tell us the kinds and nature of damages that kidney-related diseases will cause: all are related to the disruption of their functions enumerated from the first paragraph of this article.

Health experts share that the spectrum of kidney-related diseases and disorders is really broad that it ranges from the following: urinary tract infections affecting the kidneys, kidney obstructions, kidney stones and ultimately, kidney failure.


Throughout medical history, much has been written about maintaining your kidney’s health. Unfortunately, epidemiologic data tell us the need for more health education about saving the kidneys from diseases.

As a matter of fact, the Philippines is a home to 14,000 Pinoys suffering from End-stage renal diseases and are undergoing dialysis according to the 2010 data of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute.

“End-stage renal disease (ESRD) is a condition of progressive deterioration of kidney function, which ends fatally in the accumulation of excess urea and other nitrogenous wastes in the blood” states The Lippincott Manual of Nursing Practice.

Furthermore, records culled from the Department of Health (DOH) rank kidney-related diseases and conditions as the 10th leading cause of deaths among Pinoys.

Last year, the Health Department also noted that more than 50 patients a day were diagnosed with kidney-related problems in Northern Mindanao.

Dr. Sandra Oliveros, local nephrologists said during the Renal Health and Disease Prevention Lay Forum organized by the National Kidney Transplant Institute last year that most cases of kidney diseases in Northern Mindanao are aged between 51 to 70 years old and majority were females.

“The people who are more likely to develop kidney diseases in addition to those with diabetes and high blood pressure include those with heart conditions, obesity, older age, high cholesterol and with a family history of chronic kidney disease”, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warns.

The Lippincott Manual of Nursing Practice explains that the following are a partial list of the potential manifestations or signs of kidney damage: (1) blood in the urine; (2) polyuria or very large volume of urine voided in a given time; (3) oliguria or small urine output between 100 to 500 mL per day; (4) anuria or the absence or urine output per day; (5) dysuria or pain upon urination; (6) urgency or a strong desire to urinate at first but is postponed; (7) nocturia or excessive urination at night; (8) feeling of incomplete emptying upon urination; (9) enuresis or involuntary urination while asleep in a normal adult; and (10) kidney pain, which is felt as a sharp, colicky pain in the flank area that radiates to the groin or testicles(in males).

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following tips in keeping your kidneys healthy: (1) maintain a normal blood pressure; (2) maintain within a normal range your cholesterol levels; (3) eat less salt and salt substitute; (4) eat healthy foods; (5) stay physically active; and (6) take your prescribed medications.

In addition, “Do not overuse over-the-counter pain killers; avoid smoking and drinking; and know your family medical history,” the National Kidney Foundation points out.

Dr. Virginia Claudio, a registered nutritionist-dietician and author of Basic Diet Therapy for Filipinos say that the diet for patients with kidney failure is highly individualized. “The one most often prescribed is a protein-restricted diet in which total calories, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and fluids are carefully controlled”, she writes in her book.

“To ensure successful therapy [dietary management], patients with kidney failure must undergo extensive nutritional counseling that includes the design and preparation of diets.”

In order to detect problems concerning the health condition of the kidneys, nephrologists or physicians specializing in the care and treatment of kidney-related disorders prescribe a series of test that is called renal function tests.

“A renal function test may consist of Creatinine clearance, serum creatinine, serum urea nitrogen or blood urea nitrogen (BUN), renal concentration tests (specific gravity and osmolality of urine) and urinalysis”, the Lippincott Manual informs.

According to Joshua James Diao, a registered medical laboratory technician, the cost of urinalysis is at least less than P100; while creatinine tests are P250 on an average.

“A urinalysis is the simplest diagnostic procedure to determine kidney-related problems”, says Dr. Oliveros. “Visit your doctor soon to learn more”, she urges.

(Comments may be sent to: or follow me on Twitter at polo_socio)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 15, 2013.


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