Health care campaigns are often built around specific indicators and Kidney Health Month is no different – here are two key health stats everyone should know:
- 1 in 10 British Columbians are living with kidney disease and many don't know it
- You can lose up to 80% of kidney function before you notice any symptoms
When you have questions about your particular health, medical or dietary needs, you should always check with a family doctor or registered dietitian, and kidney patients should check with their care teams. However, raising awareness can be a big help and can save lives. For Kidney Health Month, BC Renal works closely with the Kidney Foundation of Canada - BC & Yukon Branch to raise awareness about kidney health and early diagnosis of kidney disease.
The patient partner factor
BC Renal values input from its patient partners who have lived experience of chronic kidney disease. As patient partners, they are members of committees and working groups, taking part alongside health professionals and staff.
Meet Sheryl and Rozelle
Sheryl Straza and Rozelle Callangan are two BC Renal patient partners who are interested in making a difference. They have both taken part in this year's Kidney Health Month working group, providing welcome feedback on campaign materials.
Sheryl, who attends Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, received a living donor transplant in September 2020 from her mom. She joined BC Renal as a patient partner to "increase her volunteer exposure and this opportunity really hit home."
Rozelle has had kidney disease since she was a child. She has had hemodialysis treatment and received a kidney transplant in 2018. With a writing and social media background, she posts about her kidney experience on Instagram and says, "I've noticed that there isn't awareness with young adults, and I want to change that. This is my passion and purpose in life, and I believe I can make a difference."
We asked Sheryl and Rozelle to share their perspectives on three important aspects of this year's Kidney Health Month campaigns:
- How the BC Renal kidney health quiz can help people think about kidney disease risk factors;
- Why it's important to see a family doctor if you have risk factors; and
- Which tips from BC Renal's 31-day #KidneyHealthChallenge calendar & booklet stand out for them.
Both women like how the quiz can bridge a knowledge gap for people. Sheryl says, "Some people may not even realize they are high risk, or that certain things are considered high risk."
They also agree that seeing a family doctor is important. Rozelle notes, "If you have the risk factors of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, that's the time to have a conversation about regular blood work check-ins."
Sheryl adds another reason for a medical check-up: "Changes may be needed to something like your diet to preserve and prolong your kidneys. Your medical team can help with this."
The top tip from BC Renal's 31-day #KidneyHealthChallenge for both women is to keep hydrated. For the general population (not including kidney patients) Rozelle says, "Drinking about 1 to 1.5 litres of water every day helps with proper kidney function. The water flushes out toxins from the body to help keep your kidneys healthy." She also says watching sodium intake is a key tip. Sheryl rounds out her top tips with spending time in nature and/or with a pet and regular exercise and stretching.
Learn more and take the quiz!
See the BC Renal Kidney Health Month page for this year's campaigns and take the kidney health quiz now. BC residents 19 and older who take the quiz during the month of March can enter to win an Apple Watch!