Kidney Disease and St. Patrick’s Day

Four Leaf Clover 068The month of March brings some interesting coincidences for many people with full-blown kidney disease or kidneys that are at risk. March is designated as National Kidney Month in the United States, or Kidney Health Month in Canada. March 10th is also World Kidney Day. And especially in North America, March 17th is celebrated as St. Patrick’s Day. The question is whether that celebration contradicts the message of the rest of the month, about kidney disease.

That depends how you celebrate the day. Although St. Patrick’s Day ostensibly honors the priest who brought Catholicism to Ireland, many people use it as an excuse to overindulge another activity unfairly associated with that country: the excessive drinking of alcohol. Such overindulgence is worrisome even for the health of people with undamaged kidneys. But for those who are already at some stage of kidney disease, excessive alcohol consumption can bring serious harm.

The symptoms of kidney disease often don’t show up until the kidneys are already compromised. So don’t assume that you have no kidney problems, just because you have no symptoms thus far. If you tend to over-drink, you’re already creating risks for kidney disease. For example, more than two drinks a day can raise the blood pressure, and the carbohydrate overload may lead to obesity and diabetes. All are well-known precursors to kidney problems. And the extra urination and interference with blood chemistry can make the kidneys unable to maintain the chemical balances they need.

With all this in mind, it’s undoubtedly best for a kidney patient not to over-drink on St. Patrick’s Day. But does that mean you can’t celebrate at all? You should decide what you really want out of this day. Do you regard it simply as an excuse to get drunk — or does it have other associations you could concentrate on?

Kidney patients already know that if they attend parties, or meet people at a pub or restaurant, they will retain certain dietary restrictions. Good friends and family should always be willing to accommodate a friend whose health is at risk. After all, it’s still possible to have a lot of fun wearing the green, going to a St. Patrick’s Day parade, and attending other activities. And following a kidney-healthy diet, you can still create special meals.

Despite some people’s belief, excessive drinking isn’t the only way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Have fun with your friends on the day, but remember that no celebration should ever require you to risk your health or life.


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