How Can You Prevent Kidney Disease?

doctor and patient learning about kidney disease

Kidney disease means your kidneys are damaged and can’t filter blood properly. While kidney disease can develop at any time, it is more common in those over the age of 60. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 38% of adults 65 or older are affected by kidney disease.

What causes kidney disease?

The most common causes of kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. If you are affected by either condition, talk to your doctor about how to manage your blood sugar and blood pressure in order to prevent developing kidney disease. 

What are the symptoms?

In the early stages of kidney disease, the symptoms are difficult to detect. Over the age of 60, seeing your doctor for an annual physical is one of the best ways to identify the condition. Signs of more advanced kidney disease may include vomiting, urinating more often than normal, swelling of the ankles, feeling tired or short of breath all the time, sleeping poorly, or not feeling like eating.  

Preventing kidney disease

A healthy lifestyle is your best defense against diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. The basic components of a healthy lifestyle include:   

  • Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet should be built around fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, protein (from tofu, beans, and quinoa, etc.), and whole grains.

  • Get moving

Thirty minutes a day of physical activity can make a big difference to your overall health and well-being. Make sure to match your activity to your needs and abilities, and talk to your doctor before starting an activity program.

  • Reduce stress

Finding alternative ways to handle stress, such as exercise, relaxation exercises, or meditation can improve your health.

  • Limit alcohol

Although everyone is different, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends that people over age 65 should have no more than seven drinks a week and no more than three drinks on any one day. If you have a health problem or are taking certain medicines you may need to drink less, or not at all. Talk to your doctor about what is right for you. For more information on alcohol go here.

  • Don’t smoke

Many older adults who have smoked for years think stopping now won’t do any good. But that’s not true. Many health problems caused by smoking can be even more serious for older adults. As soon as you stop smoking your body begins to recover. Quitting at any age will improve your health.

  • See your doctor regularly

Having a physical each year makes it easier for your doctor to spot problems early, when they are easier to treat. Your doctor will also recommend screening tests you may need to prevent future medical problems.

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