The 8th of March, every year is recognized as World Kidney Day (WKD). The purpose of recognizing one such day is to create awareness among people about the importance of kidneys in the overall health and how to efficiently take care of the kidneys.
Every year, one global theme is focused on, allowing the community to focus on a specific issue pertaining to kidney conditions. The theme for WKD 2018 is Kidneys & Women’s Health: Include, Value, Empower. Women have certain risk factors that put them at the risk of developing kidney conditions that men do not. The intention of focusing on kidney conditions in women is to bring their attention to the risk factors and inform women about ways to lower the risk of developing kidney conditions. Moreover, the commemoration of World Kidney and International Women’s Day on the same day is an additional opportunity to focus on women’s health and reflect the importance of kidney health specifically.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a worldwide public health problem with adverse outcomes of kidney failure and premature death. CKD affects approximately 195 million women worldwide and it is currently the 8th leading cause of death in women, with close to 600,000 deaths each year. Some studies state that women are more likely to develop CKD than men, with an average 14% prevalence in women and 12% in men.
Kidney diseases are often called the ‘silent disease’ because they do not depict obvious symptoms. A lot of times people go for years with no detected problems until one day when they develop a renal failure, which results in them requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant. Hence, it is extremely important to create awareness about kidney conditions that affect women, in order to make them feel comfortable about discussing the issue.
Common conditions affecting the kidney that occurs in women are:
- Autoimmune diseases like glomerulonephritis and Lupus Nephropathy (inflammation of the kidney)
- Urinary Tract Infections, if left untreated or diagnosed late result in kidney damage and chronic kidney disease
- Women diagnosed with CKD generally experience difficult pregnancy. They may have reduced fertility, although conception is possible. Timely diagnosis and efficient follow up is crucial for CKD in pregnancy.
- Overuse and dependence on pain relievers for various aches and pains. This can lead to developing chronic kidney disease.
The most common visible symptoms, depicting the possibility of a kidney condition are:
- Frequent vomiting and loss of appetite
- Fatigue and weakness
- Poor sleep patterns
- A spike in BP readings
- Muscle cramps
Since none of the symptoms are definitive indicators of kidney diseases, these are commonly disregarded. Hence, it becomes extremely crucial to consult with a specialist upon persistence on any of the symptoms. A specialist will perform the necessary tests in order to understand the condition and its severity. The two tests for kidney diseases are;
- A urine test to check for the protein ‘Albumin’, which leaks into the urine in case of a kidney damage
- A blood tests to check the Glomerular Filtration Rate, i.e. to see if your kidneys are performing the function of filtering
Women with kidney conditions also experience:
- Irregular periods: women may experience excessive bleeding or completely irregular/no periods. Early onset of menopause may also occur in women with CKD.
- Sexual Dysfunction: this may be caused by the psychological factors that accompany with the onset of a chronic health condition.
- Bone weakness: women with chronic CKD may be required to take calcium and Vitamin D supplements in order to strengthen the bones.
In order to avoid the onset of CKD and any other chronic conditions, women need to ensure that they make some healthy lifestyle changes including drinking a minimum of 8-10 glasses per day. Regular physical activity coupled with a balanced diet rich in fiber and low in processed food will help minimize the risk of chronic conditions. Following and maintaining healthy lifestyles is an important aspect of minimizing the risk of developing chronic health conditions and leading healthier lives. Taking long-term medications will need supervision and regular check-up to detect early onset of kidney damage.
On account of World Kidney Day 2018, let’s take this opportunity to spread the word about kidney conditions in women to all the girls and women we know in order to create awareness among them, further assisting in a reduction in the number of cases of CKD through early detection.
Aster Clinic, Bur Dubai (AJMC)