Kidney disease could be prevented by taking proper steps - - Columbia, South Carolina

Kidney disease could be prevented by taking proper steps

Everett German didn't have a family history of kidney disease.

However, he did have a habit of not eating right, not exercising enough and did not receive regular checkups.

“I was having really bad headaches and blurred vision and my eyesight,” German said, “and kind of thought it was just time for me to get glasses.”

It was far more serious than that. After seeing a family doctor, German was told that his blood pressure was sky-high.

“'Your blood pressure is 220/160,'” German recalled when asked what the doctor told him. “He says you are literally a walking stroke.”

After a few tests, doctors discovered that German only had 12 percent functionality left in his kidneys. It's your kidneys' responsibility to remove waste and excess fluid from the body. When this doesn't happen, doctors say you may feel fatigue, muscle cramps, swelling and more. But symptoms for kidney disease may not always appear.

“The two biggest causes of kidney failure are diabetes and high blood pressure,” nephrologist Nzisa Mutinga said.

Mutinga said kidney failure can be prevented.

“Diabetes is a preventable illness,” Mutinga said, “and that's why we must focus on screening the appropriate people and then making sure they have good follow-up and treatment.”

Mutinga says blood and urine tests tell doctors how well your kidneys are functioning. There are five stages of kidney disease. Once you get to limited kidney function around stages four and five, Mutinga recommends seeking treatment options.

While early stages can be managed with medications, catching it before it progresses can be life-saving.

“They always say, ‘It won't happen to me,' ‘I work out all the time,' ‘I eat proper,'” German said. “It may decrease your chances, but you can't be stubborn when it comes to your health. You only get one life, one body. So, you need to take care of it.”

German's story is part one of a six month series on kidney disease. We will be targeting different topics including: how to live with kidney disease; treatment options; the role of the caregiver and more. The series started in October and will end in March.

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