According to the World Health Organization, chronic kidney disease is the 12th leading cause of deaths worldwide. One in 10 indians suffer from undiagnosed and undetected kidney disease. While kidney damage cannot be reversed, it can certainly be prevented and managed in many people by making some simple but life-long efforts — most importantly by keeping diabetes and hypertension under check.
As we observe World Kidney Day, doctors at Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon held a health talk and an awareness campaign to make people aware of the causes and consequences of kidney disease and stress on the need for preventive action. The staff and the patients attending the health talk were requested to wear orange to highlight their awareness against chronic kidney disease- the silent killer!
According to the doctors and nephrologists who spoke about the rising incidence of kidney ailments in India, the risk of kidney disease can be reduced by living a healthy lifestyle that includes a good amount of daily physical activity, following basic urinary hygiene, consuming a healthy low sodium diet, reducing addiction to alcohol and smoke, adequate intake of water and abstaining from prolonged use of over-the-counter painkillers.
“With rapidly changing lifestyles, absence of physical activity, unhealthy eating habits, highly stressful life conditions and rise in obesity, hypertension and type 2 diabetes are on the rise in India. Almost 50 per cent of people who have diabetes tend to develop kidney damage at some point of time in their lives. Similarly, high blood pressure causes almost a quarter of all cases of kidney failure. This means, a large number of kidney disease related deaths can be averted if the epidemic of hypertension and diabetes are controlled,” said Dr PN Gupta, Sr Consultant Nephrology, Gurgaon.
The role of kidneys in our bodies is indispensible. They filter and remove the waste and excess fluids from our blood and body. Damage to the kidneys translates in the body’s inability to cleanse and filter its blood of toxins on a daily basis, and is a fatal consequence. The treatment of kidney function loss involves arresting the progression of the disease to prevent complete kidney damage.
“Hypertension and diabetes are the most common causes of kidney disease. Other causes of kidney disease include infections, polycystic disease, and stones in the kidney or the urinary tract. Having a family history of kidney disease also puts you at an increases risk of the ailment. This means you need to be all the more cautious about your kidney health. While most infections of the urinary tract involve the bladder and urethra only, pyelonephritis is a type of infection that extends to the kidneys. Another worrisome cause of kidney damage is extended use of analgesics,” said Dr Anurag Khaitan, Sr Consultant Urology
Post the health talk the doctors along with the dialysis patients of the hospital released balloons highlighting that they are survivors and shall continue to fight against chronic kidney disease.
Dr Sandeep Harkar, Consultant Urology also adds, “Chronic kidney disease refers to the gradual and progressive loss of kidney function. When both kidneys lose over 50 per cent of their functioning ability, it is a sign of worry. If the progression continues, the patient then needs dialysis or mechanically-aided cleaning of the blood or organ transplant as a last resort.”
Kidney disease not just affects the health of the patient, it also radically diminishes their quality of life. Living with the need of regular dialysis or waiting for a suitable donor can be agonizing and extremely difficult. Given the low rates of organ donation in India, a large number of people die awaiting the right donor.
So, what is the way out?
Dr PN Gupta, Sr Consultant Nephrology told an audience at the Hospital Auditorium about a few basic pointers to keep in mind throughout your lives:
Keep diabetes and hypertension under check: If you are a diabetic or have hypertension, your chances of kidney damage are compounded, much like that of cardiovascular disease. The only way to check this eventuality is to keep your blood sugar and blood pressure levels under constant check. This needs a regimented and disciplined life involving low sodium, low fat diet, regular physical exercise and regular monitoring of your blood sugar and blood pressure levels. Make sure you consume the prescribed medication regularly and religiously. And keep in touch with your doctor to get a kidney function test done once every year.
Exercise: Numerous researches have shown that a moderate to heavy exercise of 30 minutes daily can radically reduce the risk of a wide range of diseases including diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity and even certain kinds of cancer. Make sure you are not a couch potato, even if you are still healthy and of appropriate weight. Walking, running, swimming, trekking, cycling are all great ways of keeping yourself healthy and reducing stress. Stop taking elevators, park your car at a distance from your workplace, do not drive to the neighborhood shop, walk instead to reduce risk of diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension.
Drink enough water: This is the most basic health fact but the least followed. We often underestimate the importance of water in our body. An adequate supply of water helps our kidneys get rid of excess toxins from the body. It also reduces risk of developing kidney or urinary tract stones. Besides, drinking enough water is also recommended to keep hypertension under check.
Avoid excess use of over-the-counter drugs: Often people with prolonged ailments like arthritis and joint pains consume painkillers on a daily basis. A number of such over-the-counter analgesics and NSAIDs such as ibuprofen can cause harm to the kidneys when consumed on a sustained basis. Taking a painkiller or two once in a while is not a worrisome thing. However, if you need a sustained drug to reduce and manage pain, consult your doctor who will prescribe a kidney-safe drug for regular use.