Kidney Health Q&A With Dr. Griffin Rodgers

hologram of kidneys( — What affects kidney health (for the better and for the worst)? How do you know if you have kidney disease? What other illnesses and conditions can increase your risk of kidney damage?

Dr. Griffin Rodgers, Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, was recently on hand to answer all of your top kidney health questions. Dozens of fans took the time to ask extremely important questions about what they needed to do to stay healthy, and we want to thank everyone involved for this fantastic and insightful opportunity.

Here is a recap of this exciting and thoughtful discussion:

Alex Ferguson: How often do I need to be tested for kidney disease?

If you have diabetes, you should get checked every year. If you have other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or a family history of kidney failure, talk to your provider about how often you should be tested.

Angela Lester: Does alcohol affect kidney function?

Hi Angela, great question. Alcohol does not directly affect kidney function but excessive alcohol is a health risk.

Katye Brown: I’m on potassium pill cause ny kidney don’t make its own potassium, I also have high blood pressure too.

Some water pills increase potassium loss in the urine. There are some people with low potassium and high blood pressure due to a hormone imbalance.  If you have low potassium and high blood pressure and are not on a water pill, you should discuss with your health provider whether you need special testing.

Firstlady Lydia Loolo: How would one know if she has kidney disease?

Most people with kidney disease have no symptoms until their kidney damage is quite advanced. It is important to get screened with blood and urine tests. Kidney disease can get worse over time, and may lead to kidney failure. Ask your provider for two important tests – a blood test and a urine test.

Robert Avery: If my father has high blood pressure and diabetes, can I develop kidney disease?

Diabetes and high blood pressure tend to run in families and they are the key risk factors for kidney disease. Talk to your health provider to see if you’re at risk. Early identification of kidney disease is key!

Keeley Williams Garth: Protein in the urine…what why how?

Albumin (a form of protein) in urine may be a sign of kidney damage. A healthy kidney does not let albumin pass into the urine.  A damaged kidney lets albumin pass into the urine.

Stephanie Britton: What foods/liquids should I avoid if my family has history of kidney disease? Im getting checked today…

It’s great that you’re getting checked today! Here are a few general tips to keep your kidneys healthy – Cut back on salt. Aim for less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day. Also, be sure to choose foods that are healthy for your heart: fresh fruits, fresh or frozen vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods.

Rj Griffin: What labs detect kidney problems?

There are two tests that can diagnose kidney disease: a blood test that checks your GFR, which tells how well your kidneys are filtering, and a urine test that checks for albumin, a protein that can pass into the urine when the kidneys are damaged.

Rhonda Perkins: What effect does vitamins and supplements have on the kidneys?

The effect that vitamins and supplements can have really varies depending what you’re taking.

Stephanie Tillman Lee: What can you do to offset the high blood pressure medications from affecting your liver enzymes?

Most blood pressure medications do not affect your liver.  If your liver enzymes are abnormal, talk with your health provider.

Allison Michelle Whitaker: what can i do to lose these extra 40, I’m HBP, RA, ASMA, I CAN’T EXERCISE MY LEGS.

I recommend that you speak with a dietitian to create an eating plan that’s right for your needs.  Also, you may want to try a physical activity that works for you, such as swimming.

Stafford Johnson: I want to know if HBP ever,ever goes away and if so,what do we do to keep it at bay. I workout and do all kinds of healthy stuff,but it seems to haunt me still.I am 6’6″,268 punds and play Pro Indoor Football.I feel fine,but when I do my checkups every now and then, the Doc always tells me to work on changing my diet??

High blood pressure can be treated and controlled with medicine and lifestyle changes. There are a few things that you can do to change your diet. You can improve your eating habits by adjusting portion sizes and still enjoy delicious foods and an occasional treat. Also, sneak in fruits and vegetables. You can add berries to your cereal or crunchy vegetables to your sandwich. Meet with a dietitian to develop a plan.

Nita Roquemore Simon-Bennett: Why is my Blood Pressure low at night and up and down in the day time?? I lost over 50 lbs trying to get healthy and started having problems with my Heart Rate was put on a beta blocker for the HR and my BP started acting up I’ve been on 3 different pills and the new pills makes my HR go up to 201 instead of the 156 he wants it to be at hole time I’m running on the elliptical…

A person’s blood pressure varies during the daily cycle.  It’s best that you speak with your health provider about this to get more clarity.

General Health Questions

Katye Brown: What can I do to get back health?

Hi Kayte, you should try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day (swimming, walking, or dancing) and also be careful with your food choices by selecting dishes that are healthy for your heart such as fresh fruits, fresh or frozen vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods.

Phyllis Marie Allen: I have all three going on. Diabetic 32yrs. High Blood pressure won’t come down below 170/89. PD dialysis 3 times a day. I will tune in to see what’s said about it.

Blood pressure should be controllable with diet, fluid restriction, and adjustment of dialysis. You should discuss with a nephrologist and a renal dietitian.

Nadia Bipialaka: I have HTN and just found out I have PVD. I was told I also need to get my renal arteries checked. For a couple months now I have been having urinary frequency. Bladder seems full with a lot of pressure, but when go to urinate there are only approx 30cc. What is this?

Frequent small urination may not be related to arterial disease. You should discuss with your health provider.

Jay Ark: my question, due to hyper tension my doctor prescribe lisinaprel (sp) as a result my kidneys function level had reached 39 since then he has changed my script and now its down to 26, I am 39, female and about 40 lbs over weight, what would be my ideal kidney level be?

If the kidney function level is referring to eGFR, then you may have kidney disease. EGFR below 60 may mean kidney disease. You can’t raise your GFR, but you can focus on preventing or slowing further damage. Talk to your provider about steps that you should take to manage your kidney health.

Alonda Smoot: My glom filter rate was at 65.5 ml/min. Should i be concerned?

Alonda, it’s great that you’re tracking your kidney function!  GFR (glomerular filtration rate) of 60 or higher is not considered CKD. Talk to your health provider about how often you should have your GFR checked, because you could still be at risk.

Rhonda Blackwell: What foods lower blood sugar?

You can use the glycemic index to find foods that will help keep your blood sugar low. The glycemic index is a ranking of foods based on how quickly they raise blood glucose levels. Sticking to foods with a low glycemic index can help keep your blood sugar low. Fat and fiber tend to lower the glycemic index of a food. Low glycemic index foods include 100% whole wheat or pumpernickel bread, sweet potato, lima beans, peas, most fruits, and non-starchy vegetables. Foods that are high in carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta, rice, and baked goods, tend to have a high glycemic index.

Arencther Benson-Marshall: What is the effect ur weight have on ur kidney.

Being overweight is associated with kidney damage.  For many reasons, try to reach a healthy weight through exercise and diet.

Lee Hodge: Is there some way to clense your kidneys from all the toxins ingested throughout the years?

Kidney damage is usually permanent (not reversible).  The goal is usually to prevent further damage through medical management and avoiding exposure to substances which can harm kidneys.

Dyanne Aldridge: Is something wrong with your kidneys if u don’t use the bathroom all day I have all three things fighting against me and I am afraid.

Not necessarily but you should check with your health provider to be sure your kidneys and bladder are healthy.

Shana Sheffield- Powell: What effects do flood pills have on kidneys. Can kidneys become dependent on them?

If you have significant kidney damage it may be difficult for your kidneys to excrete excess salt and water without taking a diuretic (water pill).

Karen L Brown: Being treated for FSGS and trying to keep protein intake under control. Am at stage 2 CKD. Is there a certain guideline for the daily amount of protein?

It’s best to talk to a dietitian who can make sure you’re eating enough protein to stay healthy but not more than that.