People with diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of kidney disease are at risk for developing kidney disease.
If you’re at risk, ask your primary care doctor to screen you, advises Sriram Narsipur, MD, who leads the division of nephrology at Upstate. A simple urine test can reveal abnormal levels of protein, which may signal kidney disease even before a blood test, which measures the concentration of waste products in the blood.
Your doctor may refer you to a nephrologist, who specializes in kidney problems, if your screening is abnormal. Here’s how to prepare for that appointment:
- Call ahead and ask if you need to alter your diet or have any lab testing done in advance, and whether you need to retrieve medical records from your primary care doctor.
- Bring a list of your medications and dosages, including vitamins and supplements, a list of any symptoms and key aspects of your medical history.
- You may want to bring a family member or friend to help you keep track of what is said, along with a notepad.
- Write down a list of questions, which might include:
— What could be causing my symptoms?
— Which tests do I need?
— What is my kidney function, and is it getting worse?
— Are my kidney problems made worse by other health conditions?
— Is my blood pressure a concern?
— Do I need to make any changes to my diet?
— Are there any over-the-counter medications I should avoid?
— How active should I be in terms of exercise?
This article appears in the spring 2016 issue of Upstate Health magazine.