Hello and welcome back.
In part 1 of this series, I explained what chronic kidney disease is, as well as addressed some of the common causes. In part 2 of the series, I reviewed the common laboratory tests used to assess kidney function. I also suggested some questions you ask your healthcare provider if you are concerned you may have chronic kidney disease.
Here are three steps you need to take if you have been informed you have chronic kidney disease:
Step 1- Take this information seriously.
You may discover that you have chronic kidney disease when your healthcare provider casually mentions it to you. Unfortunately do not be surprised if you receive no further guidance. I compare this to the times I’ve seen patients with type 2 diabetes. I would ask them if they were ever informed about this diagnosis in the past. It was not unusual for them to tell me they recall being told they had borderline diabetes but were just told to ‘watch their diet’. Naturally, they may not have taken it seriously. This is similar to what happens with early chronic kidney disease (stage 3).
So here’s a clue- if you have been informed by your healthcare provider that you have chronic kidney disease, take it seriously.
Step 2- Enlist the support of your healthcare provider
Let’s just say, your healthcare provider informs you that you have chronic kidney disease, you may have a myriad of emotions ranging from shock, disbelief, sadness, or even anger. The anger may be misdirected at the ‘bearer of bad news’ aka your healthcare provider. However, now is not the time to antagonize your healthcare provider, you need to enlist their support.
I always maintain that except in cases of gross negligence your healthcare providers want the best for you- their patient.
In part 2 of the series, I outlined some questions you could ask your healthcare provider. Here again, are the questions:
- How long has this trend (in abnormal laboratory tests) been going on?
- Could these abnormal values be explained by any recent changes in your health such as a recent illness, any medications or a decrease in water intake, etc?
- When would it be necessary to do repeat kidney function testing?
- What additional tests are necessary?
Step 3- Determine if there are any additional testing needed.
In part 2 of the series, I mentioned several common causes of chronic kidney disease. One important issue that I must admit allopathic (conventional) physicians do not pay a lot of attention to is the impact of environmental toxins have on our bodies, especially our kidney function. The kidneys play an important role in detoxification. We are constantly exposed to both manmade and toxic chemicals released into our environments. These compounds are called xenobiotics.
Examples of xenobiotics are pharmaceutical drugs, industrial chemicals, agricultural chemicals, environmental pollutants, and food additives. These toxins can either affect the kidneys directly by toxins that harm the kidneys or indirectly by the general tissue damage caused by the toxins.
When to see a specialist
Depending on how advanced your kidney disease is, your healthcare provider may refer you to a specialist in kidney diseases called a nephrologist. The goal of working with a nephrologist is to slow down the progression of kidney disease through medical management. A nephrologist is particularly important when it comes to deciding when to initiate dialysis in end-stage renal disease.
However, I would also recommend working with a specialist in functional medicine to search out the root cause of kidney disease. A functional medicine assessment is detailed and designed ‘to connect the dots to the root cause’. It is very unusual to be diagnosed with kidney disease in a vacuum. What I mean by that, is that a lot of times there may have been some preceding illnesses or conditions or exposures. And a functional medicine practitioner is skilled at being able to look at the big picture and determine if there are any common denominators that may have contributed to the disease process.
A functional medicine assessment may also include reviewing your current laboratory tests. These can provide some insight as to the possibility of high body toxic load and then guide the need for additional testing.
The good news is that a lot of people have access to their medical records through a patient portal.
Here are some laboratory tests a functional medicine practitioner can look for:
- Gamma glutamyltransferase (GGT): >25
- Uric acid: >5.0 mg/dL
- Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT): >30 IU/L
- Bilirubin: >0.8 mg/dL
- Complete Blood Count (CBC): <6,000
- Platelets: <250,000
- Low thyroid hormones (T3 and/or T4)
What to do next
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and would like support in connecting the dots, determining the root cause, and then coming up with a treatment plan to potentially preventing further damage to your kidneys, click here to schedule a free discovery call to learn about the benefits of working with me. Now is the time to act!
Until next time,
To your health and wellbeing,
- Clinical Environmental Medicine, Crinnon and Pizzorno. Elsevier, 2019
- Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative and Functional Medicine, Lord and Bralley. Revised 2nd edition. 2012.