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.
Some of the most common over-the-counter and herbal
preparations pose serious risks to the kidney, and it is easy for doctors to
forget about them when standard medication questionnaires are provided to
patients to fill out, according to a presentation at the National Kidney
Foundation’s Spring Clinical Meetings, held here today.
“I often catch myself not asking about over-the-counter and
herbal medication use,” says Johann Herberth, MD, MPH, a nephrologist at the
However, asking a simple question -- “What herbal or
over-the-counter medicines do you take?” – could provide a great deal of
information regarding reasons for kidney injury, Herberth notes.
Patients often provide medication lists, but fail to mention
over-the-counter or herbal medicines, considering them safe since they don’t
need a prescription, Herberth notes. Based on his clinical experience, he
recommends that health care providers working in nephrology routinely ask their
patients if they are taking these medications.
“The major goal of my presentation is to get health care
professionals to recognize that “no prescription needed” or “natural” doesn’t
mean “no danger,” he says.
Health care professional working with renal patients are usually aware that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) can cause kidney problems. In addition, however, there are many other, popular preparations that are less well known to cause metabolic disturbances and serious kidney-related damage.
Herbal preparations can be even more dangerous, Herberth
notes, since they are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,
and many people mistakenly believe that because they are “natural,” they must
be safe. Drugs that health care providers should be on the lookout for include
ephedra which many patients take for weight loss; St. John’s wort, a popular
herbal remedy that can alter drug metabolism; and Noni juice, which contains
roughly as much potassium as orange or tomato juice.
“I hope more renal
health care providers will ask their patients about these preparations as a
result of my presentation,” says Herberth.
Herberth will present on April 4, 2008, 3:30-4:30, during
The National Kidney Foundation is dedicated to preventing
kidney and urinary tract diseases, improving the health and well-being of
individuals and families affected by these diseases and increasing the
availability of all organs for transplantation.
For more information on kidney disease visit www.kidney.org
Posted under: General Health
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