World Kidney Day is observed annually on the 2nd Thursday in March and this year it falls on 12th March. The day is used to spread awareness about the importance of our kidneys for our health and awareness about preventing kidney disease, risk factors, and living with kidney disease.
The campaign highlights a theme every year and this year the theme is ‘Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere – from Prevention to Detection and Equitable Access to Care’. Through the campaign WKD aims to raise awareness to provide equal and uniform care to all individuals. The prime focus is on the importance of primary prevention of kidney disease by early detection and providing standard care.
What is kidney disease?
The kidney is an important organ which is responsible for filtration of waste products produced in the body. They also help in balancing the salt and water levels in your body, controlling your blood pressure, to produce red blood cells and in the synthesis of Vitamin D to keep your bones healthy. Every day your kidneys carefully control the salt and water in your body so that your blood pressure remains the same.
When the kidneys don’t function as they are supposed to it is called Kidney disease. Kidney disease is defined as abnormal retention of urinary waste products in the blood, leakage of protein in the urine and hypertension along with damage of kidney structure.
The risk factors of kidney disease include:
- Kidney stone
- Recurrent urinary infection
- Unsupervised medication intake
- Family history of kidney problems
Prevention of kidney disease – What is preventive intervention?
To prevent kidney disease, you will have to make modifications to the above risk factors. Preventative primary interventions include promoting a healthy lifestyle by incorporating physical activity and healthy diets into your daily life and regular screening through urine and blood tests if you may be prone to developing kidney disease.
Tips to prevent kidney disease:
Ensure that you regularly drink water. The amount of water one must take depends on several factors like body habits, diet, your geographic location, nature of work, exercise routine and other medical problems. You should also avoid excessive salt and keep away from fizzy sodas and processed foods as they increase the risk of developing kidney disease. Ensure that all medication you take is after consulting a doctor too.
Symptoms of Kidney Disease
If you notice any or all of the symptoms below, it is best to talk to your doctor and get your urine and blood samples checked.
- Variation in urine habits (less or more than usual)
- Onset of hypertension or uncontrolled hypertension despite medications
- Weight gain
- Swollen ankles
- Puffy eyes
- Headaches and difficulty in concentration
- Urine appears unusually foamy – this is because protein appears in urine
Lifestyle and diet for healthy kidneys
With the availability and access to processed food, it is inevitable to avoid them in today’s age. To sustain your kidneys and keep them healthy, it is best to stay natural – the less processed food you have, the better. Also pay attention to your intake of salt. Ideally, one should consume less than 6 grams in a day. Also incorporate fruits and vegetables in your diet regularly and drink at least 2 litres of water every day.
Making changes to your lifestyle also plays a key role in your kidneys’ health. Exercise whenever possible, quit or don’t start smoking, take regular toilet breaks, and ensure you have rested well every day.
How often should I get tested for symptoms?
If you are over 30 years of age, it is recommended to get a routine checkup once every year to test levels of Blood Creatinine and Urine Microalbumin. If you have any of the risk factors mentioned above, ensure that you are screened twice a year.
If you have been diagnosed, follow the advice given by your medical provider. You can be evaluated by a General Practitioner or an Internal Medicine Specialist who can then refer you to a kidney specialist or Nephrologist.
Managing kidney disease
If you have been diagnosed with kidney disease, it is important to make changes to your lifestyle and diet to be able to manage it.
Strictly follow your doctor’s advice and take the medication as prescribed. Also have regular check-ups and follow the recommended diet plan.
Quitting smoking, and exercising more regularly, starting a predominantly vegetarian diet and reducing your body fat can also help in managing the disease to a great extent.
Diet for kidney disease: What can I have and what should be avoided?
Once you have been diagnosed, salt intake will be restricted. You may also have to take protein as advised, to avoid food containing Potassium and fluids as per the advice of your Nephrologist and Dietitian.
When it comes to caring for the health of your kidney, always try to avoid over-the-counter drugs. Also, don’t fall for diet fads, quick slimming medications or herbs advertised randomly as these can have adverse effects on your health. Always consult a professional or do some research on the product before using it.
Dr. John Cherian Varghese
Aster Jubilee Medical Complex, Bur Dubai
For appointments & inquiries: https://asterclinic.ae/doctor/dr-john-cherian-varghese/