Health Watch -- Preventing Kidney Failure

Health Watch is a Public Service of the  Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Would you know it if your kidneys were failing?

One side effect from the obesity epidemic in America is an increase in the incidence of kidney failure. People who have diabetes or high blood pressure are at increased risk for kidney failure, and obesity raises the risk for developing these diseases.

Unfortunately, chronic kidney disease often goes undetected in its earlier stages. That's why doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say it's important for people who have diabetes or high blood pressure to be screened for kidney disease.

If kidney problems are detected early enough, doctors can take steps to slow the progression of the disease. Without preventative measures, kidney function just continues to decrease, until the patient has to go on dialysis. At that point, the only real options are dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Dr. Ramesh Saxena, a UT Southwestern kidney specialist, says your primary-care physician can conduct a test that checks for protein in the urine, which is an early sign of kidney disease. People who are at risk for kidney failure should ask for this test.

Of course, the best way to prevent kidney disease or kidney failure is to avoid developing diabetes and to manage high blood pressure. Changing your lifestyle to include regular exercise and a healthy diet can do a lot to prevent or manage these problems. Some patients may also need medication to keep their blood pressure or blood sugar under control.