Ask the Doctor
Questions about kidney disease? Risk factors? Signs and symptoms? Are you concerned about yourself, a friend or family member? Ask Dr. Spry.
Lots of people rely on 69-year-old Phyllis Clouser. Her granddaughter who's pursuing a RN degree at Miami-Dade Community College lives with her. As a caregiver for her two-year-old great-granddaughter Jaidyn, Clouser really can't afford to be sick. That's why the Homestead, Florida resident jumped at the chance to attend the free screening offered in her neighborhood by the National Kidney Foundation through its Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP).
"My doctor had told me I might be having problems with my kidneys, but he didn't really explain further," says Clouser. She has high blood pressure, but never realized that could lead to kidney disease until she participated in the KEEP screening. "I just didn't know there was a connection, but the staff there told me that high blood pressure can damage the kidneys." The most important bit of information she gained from KEEP, however, was "learning to pay attention to my GFR number, the one that measures kidney function. My number is 35 which is lower than normal for my age." Clouser hadn't been aware that she should even ask for a test to measure her GFR, but she certainly will be asking her doctor to continue monitoring her GFR in the future.
Clouser is now taking medication regularly to keep her high blood pressure under control and is careful about her diet. She's also stopped taking over-the-counter painkillers since she found out at the screening that they could be toxic to the kidneys.
As for exercise, Clouser mows the lawn by herself every week, pulls her own weeds and says "between the housework, the yard work and chasing after a two-year-old, I'm pretty active!"
Clouser is committed to taking care of her kidneys now and feels that "it would be wise for everyone to go to a KEEP screening, start learning about their health and get their kidneys checked out."