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Mar 12, 2015

Healthy Living: Dr. Cuellar Discusses the Kidney

World Kidney Day is commemorated every second Thursday in March. It is a time for healthcare professionals worldwide to educate the public on the vital importance of these bean shaped organs. The focus is on taking care of the kidney. Maintaining a healthy kidney is especially important for Belizeans, we have seen a large population of people living with diabetes and as you know diabetes is a major risk factor for kidney disease.  So how do we keep our kidneys healthy? Tonight on Healthy Living we ask internist and intensivist, Doctor Fernando Cuellar to share some tips.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

The kidneys are two small bean shaped organs found on either side of the spine. They are about the size of your fist. These organs are tasked with filtering the blood in our bodies; removing waste and excess fluid which we expel through our urine. This very sophisticated internal filtration system will filter anywhere from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and fifty quarts of blood per day.


Fernando Cuellar

Dr. Fernando Cuellar, Internist/Intensivist

“The other big function of the kidney is to regulate the amount of fluids in the body. Our bodies are sixty percent, sixty-five percent fluid, water, and it is the job of the kidney primarily to regulate the amount of fluids that we have in our bodies. So those are the two main things—to regulate toxins, poisons and to regulate fluids.”


Kidney disease is when one or both of the kidneys start to lose function. If the blood is not filtered properly or at all, then it can have serious repercussions on your health.


Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“The main cause of kidney disease is other disease themselves. Diabetes and high blood pressure, sugar and pressure, those two things are the diseases that could cause a lot of kidney damage. The other ones are not as common; for example, medication that we use sometimes to help one issue can cause kidney damage if not used wisely. The other thing is certain chemicals and poisons that can damage your kidney. Infection is another cause of kidney disease; stones sometimes.  Damage to the kidney pretty much many times come in steps, in stages. So you can see somebody with a certain amount of kidney damage, but you can’t call it end stage renal damage as yet. Many times you get somebody when there is a certain amount of kidney damage and if you do the proper thing, it can be reversed for it not to get to the end stage. But we need to remember that kidney problem comes many times in stages. There are certain small amounts of times that your kidney would just stop working in a couple days. Many times people don’t realize that they have kidney damage until major symptoms develop. But things such as swelling; like I said, it regulates fluids so if it stops working properly, then people start accumulating fluid and get swollen their feet, their ankles, lower limbs. That’s the early sign. Weakness, tiredness…that kinda thing. One of the misconceptions I always encounter is back pain or lower back pain. When people have lower back pain, the first thing they think is oh, my kidney is being affected. Not so. Many times, a lot of kidney disease do not come with pain, unless it is a stone or infection. But you can have kidney failure without back pain.”


The grim reality in Belize is that patients with kidney disease or failure are often forced to incur the  costs of regular dialysis – a treatment session that needs to be done several times a week. That is, if they are not a part of the Ministry of Heath’s program. In addition, kidney transplants are not an option in country. So keeping the kidneys healthy is your safest bet.


Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“It’s very simple. One of the major practices that we have to ensure is that we drink enough water. H20, water or like we say dah Belize “wata.” How much water? At least wah six to eight glasses of water. Sometimes I get caught and tell people make sure they drink enough fluids and then they think fluids are beers and soft-drinks and coffee…no. Make sure they take that water. So by doing that, you are a step ahead in maintaining good kidney function. Second, try to eat health overall and this doesn’t apply to kidneys but general health. Eat healthy. Avoid the concept of dieting. I don’t like to tell people to diet, but rather to be on a healthy eating concept—your fruits, your vegetables, natural stuff. Make sure the medication that you are taking are in the proper dosages. Combination of medication needs to be reviewed, discussed with your health care giver so that it cannot damage the kidney. And try just to stay with natural things: reduce alcohol, no smoking. Few herbs that are popular in Belize that I particular tell people to avoid, “Contribo.” Contribo is one of the only herb that I know of that has studied that can be directed to kidney patient.”


In general, a healthier lifestyle equals a healthy kidney and also get your regular annual medical checkup with always includes a screening for kidney functions.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Healthy Living: Dr. Cuellar Discusses the Kidney”

  1. Mary Vivas says:

    Please would love to get his email address or his phone number.

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