UCLA Campus    |   UCLA Health    |   School of Medicine Translate:
UCLA Health It Begins With U

All About Aging


All About Aging

See all All About Aging issues
Community calendar
Join our mailing list

How Healthy Are Your Kidneys?


download the newsletter

How Healthy are your Kidneys?Kidney disease is common in many of us as we get older, but we may not even know that we have it. It is the 9th leading cause of death in the U.S. and affects more than 26 million Americans – one in nine adults.

Kidney Function
Our kidneys play many important roles, including filtering wastes from the blood, regulating blood pressure and balancing fluid, salt and acid in our body. They are vital in producing red- blood cells and vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones.

Risk Factors
Who’s at risk? There are certain risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing kidney disease, including:

  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Family history of kidney disease.
  • Age 60 or older.
  • Hispanic, African-American, Native American or Pacific Islander ancestry.

Diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure are the two leading risk factors for kidney disease. If left uncontrolled, these conditions can damage blood vessels in your kidneys and cause protein leakage into the urine.

Symptoms of kidney disease include swelling in the legs and ankles (edema), fatigue, nausea, unintentional weight loss, itchy skin, muscle cramps and confusion.

You can be screened for kidney disease by asking your doctor to perform some blood and urine tests. These screenings include:

  • Basic metabolic panel to assess your electrolytes and kidney function.
  • Urinalysis.
  • Urine protein ratio tests.
  • Estimated kidney filtration rate to assess how well your kidneys remove waste from the blood.

There are certain things you can do to protect your kidneys, beginning with getting your hypertension and diabetes mellitus under good control. Avoiding certain painkillers such as ibuprofen and naproxen – or products containing these medications – will also help with prevention. However, if these painkillers are necessary, then try to limit their use to 1-2 weeks.

Dr. Hong-Phuc TranKidney health is vital to your overall health. With a few simple screenings and precautions, you can ensure your kidneys are working to the best of their ability!

Dr. Hong-Phuc Tran is a geriatrician with the highly regarded UCLA Geriatrics Program based in Santa Monica. For more information, call (310) 319-4371.

Add a comment

Please note that we are unable to respond to medical questions through the comments feature below. For information about health care, or if you need help in choosing a UCLA physician, please contact UCLA Physician Referral Service (PRS) at 1-800-UCLA-MD1 (1-800-825-2631) and ask to speak with a referral nurse. Thank you!

comments powered by Disqus