Today is World Kidney Day Preventing 'silent diseases'
Diabetes, heart diseases, or other well-known disorders are usually cited to get people motivated to look after their health and be mindful of their bodies.
Diabetes, heart diseases, or other well-known disorders are usually cited to get people motivated to look after their health and be mindful of their bodies. Prevention of kidney diseases, however, is just as important. Often termed as 'silent diseases' with very few early symptoms, kidney problems bring with it other associated health issues and in some cases even turn out to be life-threatening. However, with preventive measures and regular check-ups, most kidney diseases can be managed.
Kidney problems manifest themselves in different ways in men, women, and children. Even with rise in kidney cases in India, there is lack of awareness around symptoms, testing, and treatment. In the effort to bring it to the forefront and make kidney health a priority for all, we need to first uncover the kind of kidney problems people can develop and what are the ways to prevent and treat these problems.
Common kidney concerns in men
The testosterone levels in men is a critical factor in increasing their chances of having kidney failure. Research done by scientists have shown that it's important for men to keep checking their testosterone levels as low testosterone level have been linked to a higher death rate in men who have stage 3 and 4 chronic kidney disease.
There are no symptoms of kidney disease that impact men specifically, but men are more likely to get kidney stones than women. Also, the American Cancer Society has stated that men are more prone to develop kidney cancer.
Common kidney issues in women
Studies have speculated (without concrete evidence, however) that women are more likely to have Chronic Kidney Disease. Chronic Kidney disease is usually triggered by other health issues. Problems with urinary tract infections (the frequent occurrence of which can cause kidney damage) or complications related to pregnancy, like high blood pressure can be some of the reasons why more women are said to be more prone.
It is also possible that most women with face issues in accessing healthcare, lack awareness of such issues, or even just falter in giving themselves the priority and taking care of their health. Women with Chronic Kidney Disease may develop complications with their pregnancy and this can put the mother and child at risk, which is why prenatal care is vital.
Common kidney issues in children
For children, most of the time, their kidney disease is either hereditary or a birth defect. Many children also develop conditions that can drastically increase their chances of getting kidney diseases if they are not treated on time. Prevalence of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes in children, for example, puts a strain on their kidneys, and this requires them to pay extra attention to their kidney's health, but that isn't usually the case. Mothers should monitor children for any pain during micturition, bed wetting after normal age (1.5 – 2.0) years and poor stream of urination.
Just like all other health issues, for kidney diseases too, prevention is always better than cure. The first step towards Kidney health is to take care of your overall well-being.
How to maintain healthy kidney
Adults and children alike should make sure they keep healthy with regular exercise as well as eating a healthy balanced diet with salt and sugar in controlled quantities. Not drinking and smoking is a must as well drinking lots of fluids (especially water). Another thing to keep in mind is to not take too much of certain over-the-counter medications (especially Pain killers andantibiotics) as they can damage your kidneys. The most important of all precautionary steps is to get regular check-ups and manage all your health issues with diligence. Women need to take good prenatal care during their pregnancies and treat UTIs right away.
Men should be in regular touch with their Doctors to check if any hormonal or prostate treatment could hurt their kidneys. They should also be getting their prostate regularly checked.
Taking care of our kidneys is critical for us to live stress-free healthy lives. This is especially crucial when one considers the extremely high costs of transplantations, dialysis, and all other infrastructure required for the treatment of kidney diseases along with the disparity and struggle that many have to face to receive treatment. Being aware of the problems we could face and taking care of our health is the first and biggest step towards kidney health for all.
Finally, we can keep our kidneys healthy by measures like 1. Control of HTN in the range of 120/80, 2. Control of DM keeping HbA1C 6.5 – 7%, 3. Caution should be observed while using Nephrotoxic drugs like NSAIDS, Contrast and aminoglycosides etc.
(The writer is doctor at Apollo Hospitals, Delhi)