Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Reminders of Mom: An Article on Kidney Disease.

I was sitting in the doctor's office with my youngest, checking to make sure he just had a stomach bug/virus, when I saw this article in WebMD Magazine (March/April 2013, page 69) also on the web. I did not realize that March was National Kidney Month. Over 26 million Americans have this disease and millions more are at risk. The latest data shows it being the 8th leading cause of death in the U.S. It wrote about early detection and prevention and how important it is to monitor any conditions such as fatigue, poor eating, and cramping at night. These tests may help delay and/or prevent the disease or failure. Their statistics show that in the U.S. today 170,000 people who had kidney failure have a transplanted kidney while 400,000 depend on dialysis (being attached to a machine that filters the person's blood to remove harmful waste). An incredible machine! I did sit with mom while she was on it - she said the most uncomfortable part was being put on the machine when using the fistula; the chest port was easy.

Kidneys are the body's filters that flush out waste from the body. According to the article, there is kidney failure which happens over time or acute kidney injury that happens after a traumatic injury. The website has a reference to acute renal failure which means the kidneys have suddenly stopped working.

Anyway, mom had dealt with this for years - we knew about her kidney problems which were monitored by urine and blood analysis, which is the best way to see if there are issues. Then she went into acute renal failure and was put on dialysis. I guess it was just a matter of time for this to happen, maybe medication she was taking was working against her. The WebMD site discusses how they measure how well your kidneys are working - by using GFR (glumerular filtration rate) with blood taken and look at your creatinine level. Mom was at stages 2 -3 for years. On the night I took her into the Emergency Room because she was having a hard time breathing and did not feel well, she was at stage 5, her creatinine level was 9. From the WebMD site:

Doctors determine the severity of chronic kidney disease with a staging system that uses GFR:

Stage 1: GFR 90 or greater (normal kidney function)

Stage 2: GFR 60-90 (mild decline in kidney function)

Stage 3: GFR 30-59 (moderate :decline in kidney function)

Stage 4: GFR 15-29 (severe decline in kidney function)

Stage 5: GFR less than 15 (kidney failure, usually requiring dialysis)

People over age 60 may have an apparently normal creatinine blood level, but still have a low GFR and creatinine clearance. The 24-hour urine collection method, or one of the GFR estimation formulas, can more accurately identify the decline in kidney function.


The WebMd website has a lot of medical information regarding this disease: including symptoms, treatments, lifestyle changes to help reduce symptoms, and what to do if the condition gets worse. If you have someone with this condition, take a look at the site to become familiar with the information.

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