Renal disease is a kidney disorder that can be insidious. Over 37 million Americans are living with renal disease, but most are unaware that there’s anything wrong with their kidneys. Unfortunately, by the time that many people experience the symptoms of renal disease, the condition is already in its later stages, and their kidneys are beginning to fail.
Your kidneys are an organ that acts as a filter to remove excess fluids and waste from your blood. After these wastes pass through your kidneys, they’re excreted in your urine. However, when the function of your kidneys begins to fail, waste products, electrolytes and excess fluid can overwhelm your body, causing a variety of symptoms.
The symptoms of renal disease may begin slowly, and because they’re often physical signs that can be related to other conditions, decreased kidney function is often missed in the early stages. Many of the symptoms of kidney disease arise from an excess of toxins or an imbalance of nutrients in your blood. They include:
- Poor concentration
- Frequent urination
- Dry and itchy skin
- A foamy appearance to your urine
- Swollen ankles and feet
- Puffiness around your eyes
- Blood in your urine
- Muscle cramps
- Sleep problems
- Loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
- Chest pain or shortness of breath from excess fluid in your chest
In addition to symptoms, renal disease can affect almost every system in your body. Complications from this condition include anemia, osteoporosis, compromised immunity, heart problems, cognitive changes, pregnancy complications and irreversible damage to your kidneys, requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Renal disease is often caused by other disorders that affect the function of your kidneys. Over time, your kidneys sustain damage that cause them to begin to fail. Common conditions that can cause kidney disease include high blood pressure and type 1 or type 2 diabetes. In addition, kidney and urinary conditions can also be the source of chronic renal disease. These include inflammation of the kidney (glomerulonephritis or interstitial nephritis), polycystic kidney disease, recurring kidney infections (pyelonephritis), and urinary tract infections and obstructions.
There are also some factors that raise your risk for developing chronic kidney disease. In addition to having diabetes and high blood pressure, conditions such as cardiovascular disease, smoking and obesity also increase your risk. There are also some risk factors over which you have no control, including a family history of renal disease, being older, having abnormal kidneys and being Black, Native American or Asian American. Because the symptoms of renal disease often don’t appear until the later stages, it’s important to be assessed for kidney disease if you have any risk factors. This often involves simple blood tests to assess your kidney function.
The Role of Nutrition in Treating Renal Disease
Once damage has impaired the function of your kidneys, treatments are geared toward controlling the cause or slowing the progression of disease. For example, medications may be prescribed to lower your blood pressure, control high cholesterol, treat anemia or reduce fluid build-up.
The role of nutrition is an important component in treating renal disease—so important that Medicare covers dietetic services for the treatment of kidney disease. A Registered Dietitian who is trained and experienced in treating this condition can help you adjust your diet to reduce the amount of waste products in your blood that harm your kidney. This can help you support the function of your kidneys and slow down the progression of renal failure.
A diet focused on renal health includes limiting sodium, potassium and protein—all of which can build up in your body and aggravate your symptoms and cause further damage. In addition, your intake of calcium, potassium and fluids may need to be assessed and limited. Every person experiencing renal disease is different in their needs, which makes it crucial that they work with a dietitian who can assess your unique situation and tailor a plan based on your issues.
At Nutrition Consultants on Demand, our registered dietitians are experienced and committed to helping people control their renal disease. Our team of nutrition experts come from a variety of ethnic and diverse cultures just like you, and we customize our recommendations based not only on good nutrition, but also the foods that you’re familiar with. We will assess your current diet and talk about your health concerns at your first appointment. From there, you’ll receive a personalized strategy, with guidelines, menus and meal plans. We’ll provide you with a grocery shopping list, recipes and cooking tips. At a follow-up appointment, we’ll fine-tune your plan, answer your questions and provide any support that you may need.
Our nutritional experts at Nutrition Consultants on Demand take renal disease seriously. We offer quick access to our services and convenient appointment times. While there may be so much that you can’t control about having renal disease, we will help you control what you can—and that’s the impact of your diet on the health of your kidneys. If you’ve been diagnosed with renal disease, find out how we can help you. Give us a call today, and if you have Medicare coverage, contact your doctor for a referral.
We are a team of registered dietitians helping patients who suffer from chronic conditions, and active people who want to improve athletic performance, by translating the science of nutrition into actual steps they can take to make healthy lifestyle changes.