Low kidney function: What does it mean? Should I be worried?

Posted by macarl @macarl, Oct 28, 2016

My doctor just informed me I have diminished kidney function. This was a complete surprise to me because I'm not aware of any symptoms. I had an ultrasound and the results were normal but my doctor still wants me to see a specialist. This is all making me feel very anxious. Has anyone else gone through similar circumstances? What can I expect at my appointment with the specialist? I'm 61 years old and have had a very, very stressful, anxiety-filled year. I am seeing a psychiatrist and a counselor at this time to deal with rhe issues.

@predictable

Just a quick reply @thecorporatespy. I thought you'd be interested in my eGFR, which reads in the 36-40 range every lab test for the past several years. Stage 3 chronic kidney disease (CKD) is my diagnosis, and a nephrologist is one of my favorite and most consulted physicians at Kaiser Permanente. One other thing: Did your medical team mention the kidney implications of proton pump inhibitors? Martin

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It is encouraging that people are able to manage this disease effectively for as long as you're telling me. My father died at a young age from lung cancer due to smoking and it's one of my biggest fears, leaving my kids behind too young. One's 7 and the other 5.

It's hard walking around the house feeling as scared as I do without it showing on my face for them.

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@thecorporatespy

No, as a matter of fact my doctor basically told me, "See you next year." No words that I should make an appointment to consult her at her office. Nothing.

I've made an appointment to see her to discus my labs and current medications for Friday. Like I said, the phone call as terrifying both in it's implications, and it's less than emergent tone.

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Hi, @thecorporatespy. I'm glad to hear that you and your doctor will meet on Friday to talk in more detail about your laboratory results and other issues causing your apprehensions. That's the best medicine I could imagine for dealing with too-little information about what's going on with our health. Hope you have time to jot down a list of questions that are most worrisome for you now — and perhaps in the longer run of the past. I'll bet that your worries will be relieved a great deal from just getting information from an expert professional. The final brick in this structure is mutual respect and trust between you and your medical team — your Primary Care Provider and any specialists on whom you rely. And you can get a measure of confidence also from other members of Mayo Connect. Martin

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@predictable

Hi, @thecorporatespy. I'm glad to hear that you and your doctor will meet on Friday to talk in more detail about your laboratory results and other issues causing your apprehensions. That's the best medicine I could imagine for dealing with too-little information about what's going on with our health. Hope you have time to jot down a list of questions that are most worrisome for you now — and perhaps in the longer run of the past. I'll bet that your worries will be relieved a great deal from just getting information from an expert professional. The final brick in this structure is mutual respect and trust between you and your medical team — your Primary Care Provider and any specialists on whom you rely. And you can get a measure of confidence also from other members of Mayo Connect. Martin

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@predictable I certainly agree with you, a feeling of relief once questions are answered.

@thecorporatespy taking time to write down questions/concerns you have, ahead of time, will make a world of difference to get the information you want. A eGFR of 55 is considered Stage 3A. Follow the guidelines of your nephrologist, eat a healthy diet, get your exercise, lower blood pressure if that's an issue, watch sugar intake.
Ginger

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@thecorporatespy

I just found my EGFR on it. It is 55.5. Albumin is within the acceptable range of the test. So i'm not sure why that's so low.

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They all make an emphasis on your GFR is you are under 60. I’ve been maintaining 43-57 for 15years and only went lower when I had a bacterial infection and once that was under control it climbed back up. You may have some things like hydration or type of food issues going on. Increase water intake, as suggested cranberries or cranberry Juice, avoid high fat dairy, avoid alcohol, reduce or consider eliminating red meat, avoid purines ( liver, heart, etc), etc etc see healthy kidney diet. I would try some of these and request to see what your GFR numbers are like in a couple months. If there is still concern or it’s going lower I’d ask to see or speak to a nephrologist that specializes in Kidneys and CKD.

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@gbski

They all make an emphasis on your GFR is you are under 60. I’ve been maintaining 43-57 for 15years and only went lower when I had a bacterial infection and once that was under control it climbed back up. You may have some things like hydration or type of food issues going on. Increase water intake, as suggested cranberries or cranberry Juice, avoid high fat dairy, avoid alcohol, reduce or consider eliminating red meat, avoid purines ( liver, heart, etc), etc etc see healthy kidney diet. I would try some of these and request to see what your GFR numbers are like in a couple months. If there is still concern or it’s going lower I’d ask to see or speak to a nephrologist that specializes in Kidneys and CKD.

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@gbski Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect! I see this is your first post, and it is very informative. Thank you for chiming in here. Good for you, for staying in the Stage 3a range consistently, It sounds like you have taken a proactive approach to handling your kidney disease.

If you are comfortable sharing, what is the reason for your declining kidney function?
Ginger

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The nephrologist actually at first could not determine an exact cause an finally pinned a possible causal on a prior Med I was on low dose for a couple years, although I can recall being somewhat low prior to taking any meds. Could be from diet or prior unawareness of being hydrated enough. Just recently another Dr felt I may not totally be in CKD for sure as he said the fact I’ve gone back up as high as 57 wasn’t normally something he’s seen and suggested I get even more diligent on food and water and see how that does. Currently fighting a bacterial infection so that lowered it but almost recovered what I lost after less than a week on antibiotic Rx.

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@gbski

The nephrologist actually at first could not determine an exact cause an finally pinned a possible causal on a prior Med I was on low dose for a couple years, although I can recall being somewhat low prior to taking any meds. Could be from diet or prior unawareness of being hydrated enough. Just recently another Dr felt I may not totally be in CKD for sure as he said the fact I’ve gone back up as high as 57 wasn’t normally something he’s seen and suggested I get even more diligent on food and water and see how that does. Currently fighting a bacterial infection so that lowered it but almost recovered what I lost after less than a week on antibiotic Rx.

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@bgski I wouldn't be quick to discount what a change in diet/lifestyle can do. Someone I know totally changed her eGFR by diet and watching stressors in her life! An infection may certainly affect our bodies in many ways. Good for you for watching yourself!
Ginger

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I understand how difficult it can be to get this news – but much better to know because diet does make a difference. This authors books helped me a lot: https://www.gail-raegarwood.com/ I have kept my levels in 3A for a few years now. Stay away from ibuprofen!

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