Keeping up with his kidneys
James Mims wanted to know more about his kidney function after attending a community lecture about kidney health. That’s when he learned his weren’t functioning as well as they should be. Since then, he’s been taking charge of his health.
Several years ago, while volunteering at Bayhealth Hospital, Kent Campus, James Mims attended an educational lecture on kidney health. The lecture inspired Mims to make an appointment with his primary care physician to find out how his kidneys were doing. Mims didn’t have any signs or symptoms of kidney problems, but he did have high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. And while Mims manages his conditions well, both are still risk factors for kidney disease. His test results were worse than expected.
“I couldn’t believe my kidneys weren’t functioning 100 percent; I still can’t believe it, to be honest,” said Mims. “I didn’t show any outward signs of kidney disease, and I didn’t feel bad or different in any way.”
SYMPTOMS OF KIDNEY DISEASE INCLUDE SWELLING OF THE FEET AND LEGS, NAUSEA, VOMITING, AND POOR APPETITE.
The kidneys are crucial for the body. They work with the liver to filter toxins out of blood. The kidneys handle water regulation in the body. They also convert Vitamin D into a form the body can use.
“The truth is there is no silver bullet when it comes to kidney health,” said Mims’s nephrologist G. Jeffrey Milan, MD. “Diet and exercise are important. Two of the main risk factors are diabetes and high blood pressure. Mr. Mims is a great example of the importance of having a primary care physician and getting routine checkups.”
Mims and his wife Judy moved to central Delaware in 1968 for a position at a local university and have been here ever since. Both are now retired. As they’ve aged, the Mimses have been acutely aware of staying on top of their health. “You have to be proactive about your health, especially as you get older,” said Mims. “I work closely with Dr. Milan, but I also make sure my whole care team knows about my kidney health. I try to eat well and get exercise when I can.”
“Mr. Mims is very knowledgeable and aware of his health,” said Dr. Milan. “He pays attention to all of his lab work and adheres to any advice I give. I truly enjoy working with him.”
Kidney health basics
According to Dr. Milan, new research suggests a diet low in protein is better for those with kidney disease. It’s also important for those with kidney disease to watch their salt intake since it affects water regulation. “I definitely pay close attention to what I eat,” said Mims. “I try to eat well-balanced meals with lots of greens.”
“The trick is to just get moving,” said Dr. Milan. “I ask patients to start small, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking your car a little farther from the door in parking lots. Even just losing one pound per month can make a big difference.” Mims exercises using home gym equipment.
Dr. Milan says the amount of water needed varies from person to person, but generally drink only when you’re thirsty, and just enough to quench your thirst. Try to get eight glasses each day. “I’m more aware now about my water consumption,” said Mims. “I make sure I’m not drinking too much or too little.”
“Chronic use of medications known as NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can cause kidney injury,” said Dr. Milan. “People with kidney issues have to avoid these pain relievers. Acetaminophen is safe.” Be careful of vitamins and herbs too. Mims takes a daily multivitamin specifically made for renal function.
“It’s crucial to have a primary care doctor and get yearly physicals,” said Dr. Milan. “Primary care doctors will order blood tests that monitor everything, including kidney function.” “I’m very proactive about my doctors’ appointments and always on top of my numbers,” said Mims. “You have to be when you get older.”