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Get screened for kidney disease

Dear Abby: For years, I suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes. I never had a clue that they are the two leading causes of kidney failure. After reading in your column about National Kidney Month, I decided to take your suggestion and go to the National Kidney Foundation website at kidney.org.

When I attended their free screening through the Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP), I found out that high blood pressure can damage the kidney's filtering units, that diabetes is the No. 1 risk factor for kidney disease and how important it is to keep them both under control.

That screening was a wake-up call for me. I now take insulin for my diabetes and medication for my blood pressure. I have cut out salt and starch, added lots of vegetables to my diet, and 30 minutes on the stationary bike to my daily routine. My efforts have paid off. Last year when I was screened again at the KEEP, I learned that my kidney function has increased.

Tens of millions of Americans are at risk for kidney disease. Won't you please remind your readers again how important it is to be screened? For me it was a lifesaver.

-- Jerrydean Queen, New Orleans

Dear Jerrydean: I'm pleased that my column alerted you to your risk for kidney disease, and that you caught it in time.

Readers, next Thursday is World Kidney Day. The National Kidney Foundation is again urging Americans to learn the risk factors for kidney disease and be screened so you can prevent damage to these vital organs. For advice on how to stay healthy and a schedule of free screenings -- not only during March but also throughout the year -- visit the National Kidney Foundation online at kidney.org.

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Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.