In recognition of National Kidney Month, Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) would like to educate the public about their kidney health and urge those in risk categories to schedule a checkup.

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs about the size of a fist, located just below the rib cage, on each side of the spine. Every day, the two kidneys filter waste and excess water out of about 120 to 150 quarts of blood. They also help to regulate blood pressure and direct red blood cell production.

Many issues can arise with the overall health of the kidneys and they can be prone to disease.

“Acute renal failure, chronic kidney disease, diabetic kidney disease, difficult to control blood pressure, kidney stones, dialysis and post Kidney transplant care are some of the things that I treat here at PMC,” said Dr. Chinmay Patel, PMC Nephrologist.

Chronic kidney disease affects about 30 million Americans and millions more are at high risk of developing kidney disease.

“Chronic kidney disease can occur at any age, but it becomes more common with increasing age and is more common in women,” said Dr. Patel. Most show no signs of symptoms until the disease has progressed.

“Most people may not have any severe symptoms until their kidney disease is advanced,” explained Dr. Patel. “Some of the symptoms include tiredness, swelling of feet, need to urinate more often at night, skin itching and muscle cramping.”

Early detection and diagnosing the cause of problems are key in treating kidney disease.

Understanding how to prevent kidney damage is an important factor in overall kidney health.

“Early detection can help prevent kidney disease from progressing to kidney failure,” Dr. Patel explained. “Diagnosis can be done by blood tests to check for serum creatinine and glomerular filtration rate, which measures the level of kidney function and determines the stage of the disease. While urine tests look for protein excretion in urine,” he said. An ultrasound of the kidney can help find cysts, stones and obstructions. Sometimes a biopsy of the kidney is required for accurate diagnosis.

What you eat and drink play a vital role in the health of your kidneys. As a general rule, natural foods are healthier than processed foods.

“A kidney friendly diet is one that is rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds and nuts,” advised Dr. Patel. “This diet is low in salt and sodium, sugars and sweets, fats and red meats.”

It is also important to drink plenty of water. The recommended six to eight glasses per day helps flush out toxins and prevent kidney stones.

“New research has shown that drinking a lot of sugar-free cola beverages or other carbonated soft drinks might have adverse effects on kidney health,” warned Dr. Patel. “In one study, soda-drinking women had a 30 percent greater reduction in kidney function in 20 years compared with women who did not drink diet soda. Drinking one diet soda daily did not decrease kidney function more than normal. Drinking two or more diet sodas, though, appeared to cause problems,” Dr. Patel advised.

The best way to take care of your kidneys is to manage the factors within your control, like blood pressure, high cholesterol, body weight and blood sugar. It is also important not to smoke and to get plenty of physical activity.

Dr. Patel is located on the 8th floor of the PMC PMC Clinic Building.

To schedule an appointment for a kidney checkup, please call 606-218-2208.