The month of March is National Kidney Month. In honor of the observance, show your kidneys some love by learning more about these sophisticated pair of organs and what you can do to keep your pair of kidneys healthy. The kidneys filter about 200 liters of blood every single day, keeping the blood minerals in balance by removing toxins, wastes and water.
This is the job the kidneys are most known for, but did you know that the kidneys have many other responsibilities? The kidneys also help
- Regulate blood pressure
- Regulate fluid levels
- Control the production of red blood cells
- And, activate vitamin D for strong, healthy bones.
The rise in kidney disease has presently resulted in about 55,000 patients on dialysis in India, and the population on dialysis is growing at the rate of 10–20% annually. It is estimated that 800 per million of the population in India is at the risk for Chronic Kidney disease and since we are still not focusing on our health, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is estimated to triple in the next ten years.
Our kidneys are designed to take a lot of load, so about 20 per cent of the patients will not have any symptoms initially resulting in letting the kidney disease go undetected until it is very advanced. When symptoms do finally present themselves, the kidneys may already be failing and serious. Symptoms of kidney disease that should not be missed include
- pain in the back or sides
- lower limb (legs and ankles) swelling
- decreased urine output
- loss of appetite.
People who are prone to kidney diseases are the ones with prevalence of obesity (lack of proper diet and exercise), diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, age (over 50 years), family history of kidney failure and frequent use of over-the-counter medications. Out of all these, diabetic nephropathy is the leading cause of Kidney disease in our country. If you fall into any of these categories, it is important to ask your physician to perform a kidney screening test. If detected early, with proper treatment from your physician and nephrologist, progression of kidney disease can be slowed down or completely prevented.
Chronic Kidney Disease, a progressive disease, leads to a need for dialysis or kidney transplant as a mode of treatment. It may sound scary, but by no means is it the end of life. Science and research have made dialysis now more easy to use. Even while on dialysis, you can live a relatively normal life and come home in the evenings after your dialysis shift. Dialysis therapy will continue until you find a donor for yourself for a kidney transplant which may be a long wait. The data says that almost 150,000 people in India are waiting for a kidney transplant; however, only 3000 of them receive one.
Early Diagnosis and treatment aimed at improving the prognosis is key.
The best advice when it comes to kidney disease is “PREVENTION”.
Prevention tips include ABC’s like:
- Avoid Over the counter medication like ibuprofen, advil
- Blood pressure control between 120/70 and 140/90
- Cholesterol control
- Diabetes control. Keep your blood sugars under control, aim for a hemoglobin A1c of less than 7
- Exercise and eat healthy (Quit smoking, Avoid salt, Reduce red meat intake)
MOST Important – GET TESTED!
Talk to your doctor about your risk of kidney disease and if you should see a kidney specialist (Nephrologist).