Author: Sam Holek

The Facts About Kidney Disease: What You Need To Know

For those who don’t know much about kidneys, they are the two bean-shaped organs that sit below your rib cage. They reside on either side of your spine and are the size of your fist. Though they may be small, they deserve special care and treatment. Let’s identify some of the most common kidney diseases and how you can lower your risk by improving your overall kidney health. 

Understanding Your Kidneys and How They Function

Let’s start with the basics of kidney function: what do they do? First, the kidneys make urine by filtering waste and excess fluids. This waste then travels from the kidneys to the bladder where it’s then expelled from your body.

Kidneys maintain homeostasis in the body by regulating fluid and electrolyte levels. Electrolytes are minerals like sodium, calcium, and potassium that help the body function. Kidneys regulate electrolytes by adjusting the amount of water and salt eliminated through urine.

Another job of the kidneys is to control blood pressure. When blood pressure is low, kidneys produce a hormone called angiotensin II. This hormone constricts the blood vessels, thus increasing blood pressure. Kidneys also produce the erythropoietin hormone which creates red blood cells that carry oxygen to the body’s tissues.

The liver produces a vitamin called calcidiol. When calcidiol passes through the kidneys, it’s turned into an active form of Vitamin D. This active Vitamin D can help increase calcium levels in the blood when they’re low, and also helps to maintain strong bones.

Exploring Different Types of Kidney Diseases

Kidneys clearly play an important role in keeping your body healthy. When your kidneys don’t function properly, a number of health issues can occur.

Chronic Kidney Disease

This condition causes the kidneys to increasingly lose their ability to function. It usually derives from existing health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, and glomerulonephritis. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) often occurs in people who are over the age of 60 or who have a family history of stroke and kidney or heart disease.

Chronic kidney disease creates dangerous levels of waste, fluid, and electrolyte buildup. Because of this, a common symptom of CKD is decreased or increased urine output. Complications such as anemia, bone disease, and nerve damage can occur in the late stages of this disease. At that point, kidney dialysis or even a transplant may be required.


Glomerulonephritis happens when the filters in your kidneys, called glomeruli, become inflamed. When this happens, toxins, metabolic waste, and excess fluid cannot be filtered out into the urine. They buildup in the body, leading to fatigue and swelling. Glomerulonephritis is often caused by diabetes, lupus, or other underlying health conditions.

Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome

This rare syndrome, also referred to as aHUS, occurs when blood clots form in your small blood vessels. This damages the lining of your vessels, reduces blood flow, and thus harms your kidneys. Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome is caused by a mutated gene in your immune system. Instead of protecting your body from infection, aHUS tells your body to attack its own cells. Alport syndrome, bartter syndrome, fabry disease, cystinuria, and polycystic kidney disease are also genetic kidney disorders to be aware of.

UTIs and Kidney Stones

Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, happen when bacteria from outside of your body invade your bladder and urethra. It enters your urinary system and leads to infection and inflammation. Though usually a mild condition, UTIs can cause kidney damage if untreated.

Kidney stones are hard mineral deposits created in the ureters, bladder, or kidneys. Your urine may contain excess amounts of crystal-forming substances like calcium, oxalate, and uric acid. If you don’t have enough fluid in your urine to dilute these substances, kidney stones form, which causes pain and damage to your kidneys and urinary tract.

What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Problems?

Not all kidney-related diseases and conditions have the same causes. But many of the symptoms are similar:

  • Urinating more frequently or less frequently than usual
  • Changes in color and consistency of urine
  • Swelling in your ankles, feet, legs, or face
  • Feeling unusually tired or weak to the point where daily tasks are harder to perform
  • A buildup of fluid in the lungs leading to shortness of breath
  • Vomiting, loss of appetite, or nausea
  • Itchy, dry, or irritated skin
  • Difficulty falling asleep

If you notice any of these signs, make an appointment with your doctor to get a diagnosis. They can administer a test for kidney disease and give you a blood test. The blood test will see how well your kidneys filter blood. This is called a glomerular filtration test. If the test results are less than 60, your kidneys may have issues and proper treatment is needed.

How to Maintain Good Kidney Health

Whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with kidney disease, taking care of your kidneys is essential. Here are some preventative steps you can take toward maximizing your kidney health.

Control Your Blood Pressure

If keeping your blood pressure healthy isn’t a goal, you might suffer from a stroke, heart attack, or kidney disease. That’s why it’s a good idea to invest in a blood pressure home monitor. This allows you to check and control your blood pressure at all times. You can buy one at the drug store or online.

Improve Your Diet

Eating a balanced diet will help you escape kidney disease and manage diabetes, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. Eat a controlled portion of carbohydrates to keep your blood sugars in check. To season your meals, use herbs and spices instead of salt. Rather than frying food, learn to grill, bake, or boil.

Get Some Exercise

When you exercise several days a week, you can easily manage your blood sugars and blood pressure. If you have not been recently active, talk to your health provider and start engaging in some form of exercise. Try finding activities that you like such as dancing, swimming, jogging or even walking. The goal is to choose something fun that gets your heart beating. 

The Amazing Benefits of Keeping Your Kidneys Healthy

If you want to maintain lifelong health, you have to treat your kidneys right. Taking care of them will help prevent a number of chronic diseases. Living a healthy lifestyle makes it that much easier for your kidneys to work like they should. 

At Preventive Primary Care, our dedicated care team is here for you and offers personalized health care for your needs. To schedule an appointment, contact us at 302-722-6550 or visit us online at

Filed under: BlogTagged with: , , , ,

Health Screenings You Need in Your 40s and 50s

doctor in white lab coat with graphic illustrative images of health tests needed in your 40s and 50s

As we age, our body’s health needs evolve. We may experience aches that were never there before and develop concerns over health issues that may not have crossed our minds when we were younger. This doesn’t have to mean weekly checkups or constant stress over health risks. It just means being proactive about things that we’re more vulnerable to during middle age.

Being informed can help prepare you and your doctor for possible treatments and lifestyle changes you’ll need to maintain optimal health. Let’s run through a full medical checkup list of everything you should be screening and testing for in your 40s and 50s.

Essential Exams In Your 40s in 50s

Getting a standard physical exam is an important part of maintaining optimal health in your 40s and 50s. Both men and women of this age should be doing this every 1-2 years.

There are many additional exams that should be observed once you hit middle age, some of which you may be unfamiliar with. Here is a rundown of which routine exams you’ll need and why they are important to your health.

Eye Exam

Most peoples’ vision gradually worsens as they get older. By age 40, farsightedness, or difficulty seeing up close, becomes increasingly more common. Getting an eye exam every 2-4 years is crucial for both men and women in their 40s and 50s.

Doing these checkups will help keep your glasses prescription up to date, indicate whether you may have a more serious vision issue like glaucoma, or if you are at risk of vision loss.

Pelvic Exam

While pelvic exams are commonly linked to reproductive health and pregnancy, women past child bearing years should also get this checked regularly. Pelvic exams can test for gynecologic issues such as cervical and ovarian cancer, both of which become more prevalent once women hit their 40s and 50s.

During this procedure, your gynecologist will perform a pap smear and manual exam to determine whether you have any STDs, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, or early signs of cancer. Women in their 40s and 50s should be getting pelvic exams on an annual basis and pap smears every 3 years per your gynecologist’s instruction.

Rectal Exam

Getting periodic rectal exams is a crucial part of maintaining middle-aged health. During this procedure, a doctor will examine the inside of your colon to check for abnormalities. Common medical issues that may come up are inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), hemorrhoids, rectal or colon cancer, and even neurological disorders.

This exam is not the same as a colonoscopy as it does not require any prior preparation such as colon cleansing. However, the two may be performed in succession if the doctor detects signs of colon cancer while performing your rectal exam.

During a colonoscopy, the doctor checks for polyps and other signs of colon cancer. This procedure is also a helpful way of detecting causes for rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, and other intestinal problems.

Annual rectal exams are a recommended health screening by age 50-59 for both men and women. Colonoscopies are encouraged every 10 years from age 45 onward.

Prostate Exam

In accordance with the CDC recommended health screenings by age and gender, prostate exams are unnecessary for females. However, they are an extremely important procedure for men in their mid-40s and onward. Prostate cancer is the second most deadly cancer for men. In fact, 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime. So the best thing you can do to check for signs of prostate cancer is to get annual exams starting at age 45.

Vital Vaccinations Needed in Your 40s in 50s

Your 40s and 50s is the time to stock up on immunizations that’ll boost daily health and promote longevity. These recommended vaccinations are pretty infrequent and low maintenance but are important to keep up with.

  • Meningitis Vaccine: If not received prior, you will need to get 1-2 doses of MenACWY and 2-3 doses of MenB. Booster shots may be necessary depending on the type of vaccine received. If your risk for Meningitis still persists, you will need to be revaccinated every 5 years.
  • Booster Td or Tdap Vaccine: You will need to get a tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis shot every 10 years to follow up on the vaccines you received at a younger age. If you experience any type of puncture wound, you should get an additional booster shot regardless of when your last one was.
  • Zoster Recombinant Vaccination: This is an important vaccination once you hit the age of 50. It helps prevent shingles and can be received regardless of whether you’ve had chickenpox before. It’s recommended that you get two doses of this vaccine, 2-6 months apart.
  • Flu Vaccine: This is an important vaccine at all ages! It is ideal to get your flu vaccine once every flu season between the months of September and October.

Other Tests and Screenings to Consider

The above recommended exams and vaccinations are an extremely helpful way to promote middle-aged health. And there are still additional steps you can take to support a more well-rounded health strategy. Getting these screenings and recommended lab tests by age can have a significant impact on your life, especially if you’re able to catch early signs of diseases or detect major health risks.

Bone Density Test

Bone density tests are recommended for people who:

  • Are at risk of osteoporosis
  • Have experienced frequent fractures or loss of height
  • Have a chronic disease
  • Are a woman approaching or currently experiencing menopause

Regardless, this test should be observed every 2 years by men and women between the ages of 40-59.


Getting regular mammograms is a pivotal preventative step you can take towards warding off breast cancer. Women should receive their first one at 40 and then continue every 1-2 years. Once they reach the age of 50, women should start observing mammograms annually. They should also do regular exams on their own breasts, feeling them for abnormalities or changes.

Skin Cancer Screening

Skin cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers, especially for people who’ve had extensive sun exposure in their life. Starting at the age of 50, men and women should be getting skin cancer screenings every 1-2 years. Getting these done can detect skin cancer cells and melanoma before they become deadly.

Pursuing Impeccable Health in Your 40s and 50s

Taking care of your health is always imperative, but in your 40s and 50s, checking up on the recommended lab tests by age should become a higher priority. This will ensure you have a comprehensive check on your overall health and don’t overlook any issues that could become worse. Though it may seem like a lot of trips to the doctor, you’ll be grateful to know that you’re doing everything you can to live a long and harmonious life.

Filed under: BlogTagged with: , , , , ,

Low Glycemic Foods for Diabetes

compilation of low glyemic foods - berries, chickpeas, apples, avocado, yogurt

Although diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, some people are unfamiliar with what this health condition really is and how to distinguish type 1 from type 2. Many know that it’s linked to nutrition in some capacity, but the specifics of how diabetes affects the body and how people live with diabetes on a day-to-day basis may be fuzzy.                                                                  

Diabetes is a chronic disease that impairs the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and thus transform food into energy. Blood sugar is your body’s primary source of energy. The food you eat provides you with the glucose needed to perform daily tasks. Ordinarily, food is broken down into sugar every time you eat. Your blood sugar level then raises and tells your pancreas to produce insulin, which your cells use to give you energy. But people with diabetes cannot produce the proper amount of insulin, causing blood sugar to rise. 

Differentiating the Three Types of Diabetes

There are three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

People with type 1 diabetes are unable to make insulin because their immune system mistakenly attacks the pancreatic cells that try to produce it. Type 1 is most commonly diagnosed in childhood or young adulthood and requires daily insulin shots. 

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common kind. In fact, 90-95% of diabetic people have it. Type 2 is often an acquired disease as it can be triggered by poor eating habits and lack of exercise. But it can also be genetically inherited by people who have a family history of diabetes. Like type 1, those with type 2 diabetes don’t produce enough insulin. But with improved lifestyle habits like healthy eating, exercise, and weight loss, insulin injections aren’t always necessary to sustain the body’s energy levels. 

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a condition that can be developed during pregnancy, especially for mothers who gain a surplus amount of weight. This type of diabetes can be very dangerous as it increases health risks for newborns. Once a mother gives birth; however, gestational diabetes usually goes away though it can increase her likelihood of developing diabetes later on. Similar to type 2, gestational diabetes can be managed and prevented with healthy lifestyle habits. 

Why Diabetics Should Know About Glycemic Index Scores

If you have or are at risk of developing diabetes, staying informed about nutrition and how different foods can affect your body is advantageous. People with diabetes may particularly benefit from knowing about glycemic index scores, a system of designating numbers to foods based on how much they increase your blood sugar. 

Everything you eat — from sushi to pasta to cheesecake — has a glycemic index score. This score provides us with a way of measuring how fast carbohydrates in food are digested and how much they raise blood sugar levels. Foods with a low GI score take longer to digest and help prevent rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels. 

High blood sugar occurs when you consume more sugar than your body actually needs. This happens when you get a sugar crash from having too many sweets or feel sluggish after multiple slices of pizza. High blood sugar is tied to a condition called hyperglycemia but can also be caused by lack of exercise, excessive carb intake, and stress. 

Having low blood sugar causes you to feel weak, exhausted, or even dizzy and is often caused by a condition called hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar can also come from skipping meals, over exercising, or consuming alcohol. When blood sugar levels are low, eating or drinking simple sugars like candy bars or fruit juice can quickly raise you back to a healthy level. 

Watching out for high or low blood sugar is particularly crucial for people with diabetes, but maintaining a diet that promotes healthy blood sugar levels is a practice that everyone can benefit from. That’s why it’s helpful to keep track of the glycemic index scores of the foods you eat. Here is a breakdown of how GI scores work and what foods are best for keeping blood sugar levels balanced. 

How to Measure Your Glycemic Index Values

Glycemic index values range from 1-100 and can be categorized into three groups: 

Low GI: 1-55

Medium GI: 56-69

High GI: 70-100

To keep your blood sugar levels in check, the majority of your energy should be sourced from foods with a low GI score. This can include foods from different nutritional categories including vegetables, fruits, proteins, and dairy. Here are some examples of low GI foods:

Eating too many foods with a high GI score can be detrimental to your blood sugar levels. It’s ok to indulge in them on occasion, but they should only make up a minimal percentage of the foods you consume. Here are some high GI foods that should be eaten in moderation: 

The more informed you are about the foods you eat on a daily basis, the better control you have over your daily energy levels. To find out the scores of your favorite snacks and learn more about low glycemic foods, use this glycemic index chart.

Benefits of Switching to a Lower GI Diet

Limiting foods with a high glycemic index score is key to keeping your energy levels balanced. That’s because too much of these foods can lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, causing unwanted side effects like fatigue, headaches, or even chronic health conditions like diabetes. Focusing instead on complex carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats will usually result in a low glycemic eating pattern. 

For a well balanced low glycemic meal, pair your choice of complex carbohydrate with a protein like beans or a plant based fat like avocados. Both of these foods are low in GI and high in fiber, another nutrient that can help keep your blood sugar levels under control throughout the day. This combination of low GI foods can help you stay energized and maintain an overall healthy lifestyle.

Filed under: Blog, DiabetesTagged with: , , ,

Breast Cancer: Risk Factors, Symptoms & Prevention

illustration of ways to prevent breast cancer

Breast cancer is when breast cells grow and divide out of control. This can cause a mass of tissue or tumor to develop which can ultimately lead to breast cancer.

Every October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. By taking the time to learn about this disease, it can help with early detection which is when it’s most treatable.

Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most frequent malignancy among American women. 1 in 8 women in the United States has a chance of acquiring breast cancer at some point in her life. 1 in 39 women dies from breast cancer yearly.

Patients are having better results as a consequence of earlier detection, cutting-edge therapy choices, and less invasive surgery.

Risk Factors

There are a number of risk factors associated with the development of breast cancer. Here are some to be aware of: 

  • Age. Breast cancer risk can increase with age. Most breast cancer cases are discovered after the age of 50. 
  • Genetic changes. Women who inherit alterations or mutations to particular genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, are more likely to develop breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Reproductive history. Women who start menstruating before the age of 12 and experience menopause after the age of 55 are exposed to hormones for a longer period of time which can ultimately increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • Large breast size. Dense breasts include more connective tissue than fatty tissue, which can make cancer detection difficult on mammography. 
  • Family history. If someone in your family has had breast cancer or other non-cancerous breast diseases such as atypical hyperplasia and lobular carcinoma, you may be at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
  • History of radiation therapy treatment. Radiation therapy to the chest or breasts before the age of 30 increases the risk of developing breast cancer later in life.


Here are some common breast cancer symptoms to watch out for: 

  • Lumpiness in the breast or underarm area 
  • Swelling of the breast
  • Change in breast size or shape
  • Blood or discharge from nipples 
  • Changes in the skin of breasts (usually redness or flaky skin)
  • Pain in the breasts or nipples 

Check with your primary care physician if you experience any of these symptoms. Mammograms can assist in early detection.


There are certain lifestyle changes that can be made to lower the incidence of breast cancer, even in high-risk women. Here are some things you can do: 

  • Reduce alcohol consumption. You are more likely to develop breast cancer if you drink alcohol. Restrict alcohol use to one drink per day or 2-3 drinks only a few times a week. Even a small amount can increase risk. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Consult with your doctor on what is a healthy weight for your age and body type. Reduce the number of calories you consume each day while gradually increasing the quantity of exercise.
  • Stay active. Physical activity is important in keeping your heart healthy and also assists in maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Breast-feed. The longer you breastfeed, the more protective the impact. During lactation, most women will experience hormonal changes that delay their menstrual periods. This reduces exposure to hormones like estrogen, which can promote breast cancer cell growth.

It is important to be informed about breast cancer. Fortunately, this knowledge can ultimately decrease your risk if you take the right precautions. If breast cancer is caught early on, you have a better chance of living a happy and healthy life.

Filed under: BlogTagged with: , , , , ,