Nursing students educate community about kidney health

Courtney Dickson, Roving Editor Ω

Nursing student Chelsea Brown volunteered to educate patients and assess blood glucose levels at World Kidney Day on March 14. - PHOTO BY COURTNEY DICKSON

Nursing student Chelsea Brown volunteered to educate patients and assess blood glucose levels at World Kidney Day on March 14. – PHOTO BY COURTNEY DICKSON

March 14 was World Kidney Day and TRU nursing students and faculty were happy to get involved in Sahali Mall’s annual event, once again.

Between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. people could visit the mall and learn about kidney health from volunteers. TRU nursing students were set up at two tables assessing blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

Floriann Fehr, nursing professor at TRU, has been involved with World Kidney Day for more than five years and uses the event as a teaching tool for her students.

“I like to get some of the shyer students out to get them talking to people,” she said.

Fehr said it’s important for Kamloopsians of all ages to attend events like this because “not everyone has a family doctor, so it’s an easy way to get information without one.”

In young adults, poor kidney health often stems from urinary tract infections (UTIs). More common in young women than men, UTIs can be caused by pregnancy, new sexual partners and leaving tampons in for too long. All these causes affect the pH balance in the vagina, which triggers an infection.

Third-year nursing students Chelsea Brown and Leah Tigchelaar spent the morning checking blood glucose levels and blood pressure, both of which can lead to kidney disease if a healthy level of each is not maintained.

Third-year nursing student Leah Tigchelaar checked blood glucose levels of patients at Sahali Mall on World Kidney Day.- PHOTO BY COURTNEY DICKSON

Third-year nursing student Leah Tigchelaar checked blood glucose levels of patients at Sahali Mall on World Kidney Day. – PHOTO BY COURTNEY DICKSON

According to Brown and Tigchelaar, the optimal glucose level falls between four and seven (millimoles per litre), however Brown had a woman visit her in a clinic in Merritt last summer with a blood glucose level of 61.

“That’s really rare, though,” Brown said.

According to the American Diabetes Association, high glucose levels can cause problems in the kidneys because too much sugar flowing through the blood makes the kidneys work too hard, which can lead to kidney disease.

“Everything in your body is related to your kidneys,” Fehr said.

High blood pressure can also lead to kidney disease. Because high blood pressure doesn’t always present symptoms immediately, Fehr said this is why it’s extremely important to be aware of blood pressure.

At the same event in 2012, Fehr and her students had a man come in with a blood pressure of 220/110 (a healthy blood pressure is 120/80 according to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation). His face was red and he hadn’t seen a doctor in more than a year. Fehr and her students were able to educate him about the negative effects of high blood pressure and the man told Fehr he was going to do something about it right away.