Keeping your Kidneys Healthy
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a significant health problem in Nigeria. According to recent reports, the prevalence of CKD in Nigeria is estimated to be around 15%, which is among the highest in the world.
Unfortunately, many cases of CKD in Nigeria go undiagnosed or untreated, leading to a high rate of mortality. Treatment options for CKD in Nigeria are limited due to the high cost of dialysis and kidney transplantation, and a lack of funding and infrastructure for healthcare.
World Kidney Day aims at increased awareness about kidney care. Our daily health depends on our kidneys; however, chronic kidney disease is exacerbated by a number of conditions. Kidney disease can lead to a range of serious health problems, which can result in the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant.
By visiting your doctor and healthcare provider, who are dedicated to improving the health of their patients, they will be able to identify and manage kidney disease early, improve outcomes and reduce the risk of serious health problems. Regular appointments and follow can help prevent complications and ensure that you are receiving the necessary treatments and support.
What are the common symptoms of kidney disease?
If you experience any of the following symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Early detection and treatment of kidney disease can help prevent its progression and protect your overall health.
Your doctor can perform tests to determine the cause of your symptoms and provide appropriate treatment.
- Swelling in the legs, ankles, or face: This can occur because the kidneys are not properly removing excess fluid from the body.
- Fatigue: The kidneys help produce red blood cells, so if they are not functioning properly, it can lead to anaemia and fatigue.
- Nausea and vomiting: Waste build-up in the body cause digestive symptoms like nausea and vomiting.
- Itching or dry skin: When the kidneys are not working properly, waste builds up in the skin and causes itching or dryness.
- Changes in urination: A decrease in the amount of urine produced or changes in the colour or appearance of urine can be signs of kidney disease.
- Pain or pressure in the back or side: This can be a sign of a kidney infection or another problem with the kidneys.
What will you check with your doctor and healthcare provider?
- Your Medical history, including any previous or current health conditions, medications you are taking, and family history of kidney disease.
- If you are experiencing symptoms such as fatigue, fluid retention, decreased urine output, blood in urine, and high blood pressure, the doctor may ask about the severity and duration of these symptoms.
- What are your risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and smoking?
Your healthcare provider will likely perform a physical exam, including checking your blood pressure, listening to your heart and lungs, and examining your abdomen.
- She or he, may order blood tests to measure your kidney function, including the levels of creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) in your blood.
- Some urine tests may also be ordered to check for protein and other signs of kidney damage.
What are the common factors that increase the risk of developing kidney disease?
Understanding your risk factors for kidney disease and taking steps to reduce them by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, controlling chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and undergoing regular screenings and risk assessments is important.
- High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, leading to kidney disease.
- Diabetes and high levels of glucose in the blood promote damage in the blood vessels in the kidneys and lead to kidney disease.
- Family history of kidney disease increases a higher risk of developing it yourself.
- As you get older, your risk of developing kidney disease increases.
- Being overweight can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes, which are both risk factors for kidney disease.
- Smoking damages the blood vessels in the kidneys and increases the risk of kidney disease.
- Certain medical conditions increase the risk of developing kidney disease.
- If you have heart disease, you may be at increased risk of developing kidney disease.
- Certain infections, such as HIV and hepatitis C, can increase the risk of kidney disease.
By undergoing regular screenings and risk assessments, you can help ensure that kidney disease is detected early and that appropriate steps are taken to manage the condition and prevent further damage. Regular monitoring also enables your doctor to track your kidney health over time and adjust treatment plans as needed.
Don't wait until you have symptoms to get checked. Schedule an appointment with your doctor today and take control of your kidney health.
Lifestyle factors that can impact kidney health.
The way you live your life can have a big impact on your kidney health. Certain lifestyle factors, such as diet, exercise, and alcohol consumption, can significantly affect your risk of developing kidney disease.
A diet that is high in salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats can increase your risk of kidney disease. It's important to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products.
Excessive alcohol consumption can damage your kidneys and increase your risk of developing kidney disease. It's best to limit alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
Regular exercise can help improve your overall health and reduce your risk of kidney disease. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercises, such as brisk walking, every day.
By making healthy lifestyle choices, you can help keep your kidneys healthy and reduce your risk of kidney disease. Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Get regular exercise, such as brisk walking, to help improve your overall health and reduce your risk of kidney disease.
- Limit alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
- Maintain a healthy weight to reduce your risk of developing chronic conditions that can impact your kidney health.
- Avoid smoking, as it can increase your risk of developing kidney disease and other health problems.
- Control any chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, that can increase your risk of developing kidney disease.
DID YOU KNOW?
High blood pressure damages the blood vessels in the kidneys by causing them to become narrower and stiffer. This can limit the flow of blood to the kidneys and reduce their ability to function properly.
High blood pressure can also cause tiny blood vessels in the kidneys, called capillaries, to become damaged and leaky. When this happens, protein from the blood can leak into the urine, a condition called proteinuria.
Over time, proteinuria can cause scarring in the kidneys, reducing their ability to function properly.
Additionally, high blood pressure can increase the pressure within the kidneys, leading to damage to the filtering units in the kidneys called nephrons. When nephrons are damaged, they cannot filter waste products from the blood effectively, leading to a build-up of toxins in the body.
All of these factors can contribute to the development of chronic kidney disease, a condition in which the kidneys gradually lose function over time. By controlling high blood pressure, you can reduce the risk of kidney damage and slow the progression of chronic kidney disease.
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of kidney disease.
As high blood sugar levels over time can damage the kidneys and reduce their ability to function properly. In diabetes, high blood sugar levels cause the kidneys to filter more blood than usual, which puts a strain on the kidneys and can damage the small blood vessels and filters in the kidneys. Over time, this damage can lead to kidney disease.
On the other hand, kidney disease can also contribute to the development of diabetes. When the kidneys are not functioning properly, they may not be able to produce enough of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which helps regulate blood sugar levels.
As a result, people with kidney disease may be at increased risk of developing diabetes.
The relationship between kidney disease and diabetes is complex, and the two conditions can often coexist in the same person. It's important for people with diabetes to monitor their kidney function regularly and for people with kidney disease to monitor their blood sugar levels to manage the risk of developing diabetes.
Managing obesity can help reduce the risk of developing kidney disease.
Managing obesity can help reduce the risk of developing kidney disease and slow its progression in people who already have the condition. Lifestyle modifications, such as a healthy diet and regular exercise, can help control weight and reduce the risk of complications.
In addition, managing other risk factors for kidney disease, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, is important for preventing the development and progression of kidney disease in people who are obese.
Obesity is a major risk factor for high blood pressure, which can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys and reduce their ability to function properly. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of kidney disease.
It is also a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes, a condition in which high levels of glucose in the blood can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys and impair their function. Diabetes is another leading cause of kidney disease.
Which test could you be prescribed?
Chronic kidney disease is diagnosed using a combination of blood and urine tests. Here are some of the key tests that can be conducted in a diagnostic lab to assess kidney disease:
- Creatinine is a waste product that is normally filtered out of the blood by the kidneys. A blood test will measure the level of creatinine in the blood. High levels of creatinine in the blood may indicate impaired kidney function.
- Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) is another waste product that is normally filtered out of the blood by the kidneys. A blood test will measure the level of BUN in the blood. High levels of BUN may indicate impaired kidney function.
- Urinalysis involves analysing a sample of urine to look for signs of kidney disease, such as protein or blood in the urine.
- Albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR) is a test that measures the amount of albumin (a type of protein) in the urine in relation to the amount of creatinine. A high ACR may indicate kidney damage.
- "Chronic kidney disease in Nigeria: An update on epidemiology, causes, and management" by Abioye-Kuteyi et al. published in Saudi Journal of Kidney Diseases and Transplantation in 2019. https://bmcnephrol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12882-020-02126-8
- Diabetes management in chronic kidney disease: a consensus report by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) - https://www.kidney-international.org/article/S0085-2538(22)00634-2/fulltext
- American Diabetes Association - https://diabetes.org/diabetes/chronic-kidney-disease
- High Blood Pressure and Chronic Kidney Disease - https://www.kidney.org/sites/default/files/docs/hbpandckd.pdf
- The 20 Best Foods for People with Kidney Disease - https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-foods-for-kidneys