Carol Paterson lost one of her kidneys to cancer in 2001. After getting sick with influenza in 2013, a blood test revealed her creatinine levels were extremely high.

1)Several people took in the World Kidney Day exhibit on March 13 at St. Paul’s Hospital.

Several people took in the World Kidney Day exhibit on March 13 at St. Paul’s Hospital.

Creatinine is a waste product and too much of it in the blood can indicate problems with the kidneys. Paterson was advised to see her doctor right away.

Paterson’s second kidney failed and she began dialysis on January 8, 2014. She’s now on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.

As a passionate advocate of kidney health, Paterson regularly asks those she meets, “What are you doing for your kidneys?” It’s a question proponents of kidney health want everyone to ask themselves in March which is Kidney Month.

Nurse Clinician Carmen Berglund and Registered Dietitian Tanya Menzies share Paterson’s passion. Berglund and Menzies regularly educate members of the public about kidney disease prevention and treatment through the Region’s Chronic Kidney Disease Community Outreach Program.

2)This hemodialysis display was one of several informational booths at the World Kidney Day exhibit.

This hemodialysis display was one of several informational booths at the World Kidney Day exhibit.

“Kidneys are some of the most important organs in the body,” explains Berglund. “They are the body’s filter. Kidneys remove wastes and extra fluid, they balance minerals, produce hormones to control blood pressure, make red blood cells, and keep bones strong.”

Berglund and Menzies held two public information events during March and reached out to the public through the media to help raise awareness about kidney health.

“You don’t feel kidney disease, so prevention and early detection is crucial,” cautions Menzies. “It’s important to keep your kidneys healthy, especially as you age. “Keep active, watch your blood sugar and blood pressure, eat healthy, be smoke free, use medication wisely, and get screened for kidney disease if you have risk factors.”

Paterson couldn’t agree more. “Do not let your blood pressure go. Watch your health.”

What is hemodialysis?

Through hemodialysis, a filter removes waste products and fluids from the blood of patients whose kidneys have failed. Conventional or home-based hemodialysis is a renal replacement therapy available to Saskatchewan patients. Another option is home-based peritoneal dialysis where fluid is introduced through a permanent tube in the abdomen and drained out after a period of time to remove extra fluid and waste from the body. A third option for patients with kidney disease is a kidney transplant. There are currently 87 people on the wait list for a kidney transplant.

 

What can I do to protect my kidneys?

  • Find out what a good blood pressure is for you.
  • If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugars level.  Aim for blood sugars of 4 -7 before meals and less than 10 – two hours after a meal. A good A1C (how well your blood sugar levels have been for the last 3 months) is less than 7.0%
  • Add less salt to your foods and choose less high salt foods. Salty foods include sandwich meat, canned and instant foods, pickles, soy sauce, fast foods and salted snack foods like chips and crackers.
  • Limit how much meat or protein foods you eat. Aim for 2 – 3 servings per day. A serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards.
  • Increase your physical activity.  This includes walking, swimming, dancing or biking. Start small and build up slowly. A goal to work towards would be 30 minutes a day.
  • If you smoke, consider quitting. There are a lot of tools to help you.
  • Learn about your medications what they are and how to take them. If you are having trouble taking them, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Find out what you can do to keep your kidneys healthy and then pick some things you can work on!