Timely preventive health checkups a must to avoid kidney diseases

12:58 pm Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine, Social Health Community

People with existing risk factors or health complications should be careful

New Delhi, 14 September 2018: As per a recent study, people with acute critical illness and no prior kidney disease have an increased risk of kidney complications and related mortality. Those who had experienced acute kidney illness were at an increased risk of renal complications, developing chronic kidney disease and then end-stage kidney disease, with septicemia and septic shock being the strongest risk factors. It is imperative to get kidney functions checked in a timely manner, especially in those with some pre-existing health conditions.

Chronic kidney disease or CKD is characterized by a gradual loss of kidney function over time and may eventually lead to kidney failure, causing patients to undergo dialysis or a kidney transplant. The signs and symptoms are not noticeable until the disease is fairly well advanced and the condition has become severe. By this time, most of the damage is irreversible.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Kidneys help in filtering out the excess waste and fluid material from the blood. They can eliminate most of the waste materials that our body produces. However, when the blood flow to the kidneys is affected, they cannot work properly. This can happen due to some damage or disease. Problems can occur even when the urine outflow is obstructed. At an advanced stage of CKD, dangerous levels of fluid, electrolytes, and wastes can build up in the body. Those with underlying conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, abnormal kidney structure, and a family history of the disease are at more risk. Additionally, those who smoke and are obese can also be potential candidates for CKD over the longer term.”

Some symptoms of kidney disease include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue and weakness, sleep problems, decreased mental sharpness, muscle twitches and cramps, edema, persistent itching, chest pain, shortness of breath, and hypertension that is difficult to control. However, these can be confused with other ailments.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “If you have certain risk factors such as high BP or diabetes, it is important to be screened for kidney disease. That usually involves simple laboratory tests: a urine test to look for kidney damage, and a blood test to measure how well the kidneys are working. The urine test checks for a protein called albumin, which is not routinely detected when your kidneys are healthy. The blood test checks your GFR or the glomerular filtration rate, which is an estimate of filtering ability of your kidney. A GFR below 60 is a sign of chronic kidney disease. A GFR below 15 is described as kidney failure.”

Some Golden Rules to avoid or delay reaching the point of reaching kidney failure

  • Keep fit and active, as it helps reduce your blood pressure.
  • Monitor your blood pressure: It is also the most common cause of kidney damage. The normal blood pressure level is less than 120/80. A BP reading above 130/80 is high BP. Discuss the risks with your doctor and monitor your blood pressure level regularly. High blood pressure is especially likely to cause kidney damage when associated with other factors like diabetes, high cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Keep your blood sugar levels controls as about half of people who have diabetes develop kidney damage.
  • Eat healthy and keep your weight in check as this can help prevent diabetes, heart disease and other conditions associated with chronic kidney disease.
  • Reduce your salt intake. The recommended sodium intake is 5-6 g of salt per day (around a teaspoon).
  • Maintain a healthy fluid intake: Traditional wisdom has long suggested drinking 1.5 to 2 liters (3 to 4 pints) of water per day. Consuming plenty of fluid helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins from the body which, in turn, results in a “significantly lower risk” of developing chronic kidney disease.  But do not advocate “aggressive fluid loading”, which can cause side effects.
  • Do not smoke as it slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by about 50%.
  • Do not take over-the-counter pills on a regular basis: Drugs like ibuprofen are known to cause kidney damage, if taken regularly.

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