Hardly anyone tells the elderly they need to drink water. Yet the sad part is that so many health problems could be prevented by simply having adequate water intake. Renal dysfunction is so common among the elderly I seem to address this every time I work with anyone in their 70’s and beyond. The sad part is that dehydration is chronic in many cases. For many elderly people it has gone on for a long, long time.
In nursing homes, the elderly are very often poorly cared for. They are not given quality food and nourishment, and attention is not given to their need for water and hydration. I see too many blood test results which reflect poor hydration. When renal function is diminished, the body struggles to maintain homeostasis. Since the kidneys have a regulatory effect upon the body’s pH and electrolyte balance, it is common to see changes in blood pressure, often erring on the side of hypertension.
Factors Which Reveal Renal Insufficiency
On a blood test, BUN (blood urea nitrogen) is indicative of protein breakdown. If BUN is greater than 20, dehydration is possible. The higher the BUN goes, the greater the reflection upon renal dysfunction. eGFR (estimated glamerular filtration rate) reflects renal filtration. Ideally this is greater than 60. The lower GFR falls, the more reflective of renal insufficiency. Creatinine is a waste product of creatinine phosphate in muscle. It is filtered out of the blood by the kidneys. High levels of creatinine indicate the kidneys are toxic and incapable of eliminating this waste product.
If chronic dehydration and renal insufficiency is present, there may be other forms of de-regulation as well. This includes de-regulation of the body’s pH balance and electrolyte function. Sodium and potassium levels may be out of range, as well as chloride and Co2 (bicarbonate). If a high chloride (>106) level accompanies a low Co2 (<23) it is a sign of metabolic acidosis. This is a common pattern that often times will develop in long term renal insufficiency. In such cases, it is common for a person to experience a shortness of breath. In an acidosis, the lungs must blow off the excess carbon dioxide by increasing the frequency of breath.
Stay hydrated! Don’t let dehydration or kidney insufficiency become a reality! There are some very good herbal supplements that can support normal kidney function. Additionally, companies like Standard Process makes very good formulas for kidney support and health.