Today is World Kidney Day. People and organizations around the world are celebrating the day with the aim of raising awarenesss of high and increasing burden of Kidney disease prevention and management.
The Theme for this year’s celebration which is ‘Kidney health for everyone, everywhere” is calling for universal health coverage for prevention and early treatment of kidney diseases.
This is because it is expensive to treat Kidney disease and most people die due to financial assistance for their dialysis which must be done on frequent basis.
Eight hundred and fifty million people worldwide are estimated to have kidney disease from various causes. Chronic kidney disease cause at least 2.4million deaths per year and are now the 6th fastest growing cause of deaths.
I spoke to a cross section of Ghanaians to find out if they knew anything about kidney disease but it looks like the awareness of the disease is very low.
What Is Kidney Disease?
Kidney disease can affect your body’s ability to clean your blood filter extra water out of your blood, and help control your blood pressure. It can also affect red blood cell production and vitamin D metabolism needed for bone health.
You’re born with two kidneys. Each kidney is about the size of your fist. They are located near the middle of your back, just below the rib cage.
When your kidneys are damaged, waste products and fluid can build up in your body. That can cause swelling in your ankles, nausea, weakness, poor sleep, and shortness of breath. Without treatment, the damage can get worse and your kidneys may eventually stop working. That’s serious, and it can be life-threatening.
What Healthy kidneys do:
- Keep a balance of water and minerals (such as sodium, potassium, and phosphorus) in your blood
- Remove waste product and extra water from your body .
- Help control your blood pressure
- Help make red blood cells
- Help keep bones healthy
Acute Kidney Problems
If your kidneys suddenly stop working, doctors call it acute kidney injury or acute renal failure. The main causes are:
- Not enough blood flow to the kidneys
- Direct damage to the kidneys themselves
- Urine backed up in the kidneys
Those things can happen when you:
- Have a traumatic injury with blood loss, such as in a car wreck
- Are dehydrated or your muscle tissue breaks down, sending too much protein into your bloodstream
- Go into shock because you have a severe infection called sepsis.
- Have an enlarged prostate that blocks your urine flow
- Take certain drugs or are around certain toxins that directly damage the kidney
- Have complications during a pregnancy such as eclampsia and pre-eclampsia
- People with severe heart or liver failure commonly go into acute kidney injury, as well.
Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic Kidney disease means the kidneys are damaged. Damage kidney are not able to keep you healthy since they cannot filter your blood well enough and they cannot do their jobs as well as they should.
- Diabetes ;High blood sugar levels over time can harm your kidneys.
- High blood pressure creates wear and tear on your blood vessels, including those that go to your kidneys.
- Immune system diseases (Lupus and other diseases)
- Long-lasting viral illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, and C
- Repeated urinary tract infections.
- Inflammation in the tiny filters (glomeruli) within your kidneys. This can happen after a strep infection.
- Polycystic kidney disease, a genetic condition where fluid-filled sacs form in your kidneys.
- Drugs and toxins, such as lead poisoning ,long-term use of some can permanently damage your kidneys.
So who can get Kidney Disease
- Have high blood pressure
- Have Diabetes
- Have a family member with kidney failure
- Are 60 years or older
- Have used medicines over the course of many years that damage kidneys
What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Disease?
You might not notice any problems if you have chronic kidney disease that’s in the early stages. Most people don’t have symptoms at that point. That’s dangerous, because the damage can happen without you realizing it.
If your chronic kidney disease is already more advanced, you may:
- Be vomiting or often feel like you’re going to
- Pee more often than normal, or less often
- See “foam” in your pee
- Have swelling, particularly of the ankles and puffiness around the eyes
- Feel tired or short of breath all the time
- Not feel like eating
- Not be able to taste much
- Have muscle cramps especially in your legs
- Have very dry, itchy skin
- Sleep poorly
- Lose weight for no obvious reason
When to See Your Doctor
Make an appointment if you notice any of the symptoms listed above. There could be other possible causes, but you’ll need to see your doctor to find out what the problem is and what treatment you need.
Prevention of Kidney Disease
- Have regular checkups by your healthcare provider
- Control your blood sugar if you have Diabetes
- Control blood pressure if you have high blood pressure
- Make healthy food choices
- Exercise regularly
- Lose weight if you are over weight
- Stop smoking if you a smoker
- Limit how much alcohol you drink
- Use only medicine, vitamins and supplements that your health provider recommends.
- Avoid herbal supplement and those used for body building
Treatment for kidney failure
- Dialysis: is treatment that removes wastes and extra water from your blood.
- Kidney transplant: is an operation that places a new kidney inside your body.
So now you know what to do in order to have healthy kidneys. Do your best to stay health always because apart from the pains you go through when you get kidney disease, you spend a lot in terms of time and money. Stay healthy and enjoy life.