Address Kidney Ailments Before They Kill You

March 4, 2019

More than two lakh people die of kidney failure annually in India. You don’t want to add to those statistics. What is truly alarming is the fact that in less than a decade such deaths have doubled in India. However, it’s reassuring that while renal failure deaths rank fifth globally; in India, it is the eighth leading cause of death. One reason could be dietary habits, which makes many Indians vegetarian or vegan. Another could be the widespread practice of drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning, and certain cooling drinks like sugarcane juice and lemon juice (nimbu paani), especially in summer.

Kidney Pain

Consider these statistics: The Lancet reported in 2016 that now India contributes to 19 percent of all premature deaths globally caused by end-stage renal disease (ESRD), or kidney failure in layman’s parlance. Part of the reason for this surge in kidney disease could be the rising cases of diabetes and its poor management; especially among the economically weaker sections of people. Some doctors feel that diabetes and cardiac disease are underdiagnosed causing such premature deaths as these ailments and CKD are interlinked. So, don’t wait for it to become irreversible before consulting your doctor.

Watch Out for These Symptoms

One of the biggest challenges in the treatment of kidney disease is that usually, it is asymptomatic in the early stages. If you suddenly find that it is becoming painful to urinate; the urine is dark yellow, even orangish; or it is foamy on evacuation; see your doctor. While you might need to check for infection and be treated for it; your doctor might also want to check the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) to test kidney function. A slowed GFR is indicative of diminished kidney function. So, the report will alert the doctor to the possibility of the onset of chronic kidney disease (CKD).

These could indicate CKD: If you have been experiencing unexplained sleep problems with loss of mental acuity; sense of constant exhaustion and/or extreme weakness; feel disoriented often; suffer unexplained itching all over the body or extremely dry skin; muscular twitches; swelling in the feet, especially the ankles (edema); get frequent cramps; have bouts of vomiting without indigestion; then you could be suffering from CKD. Other symptoms to look out for would be shortness of breath without being asthmatic; elevated blood pressure; loss of appetite with or without unplanned weight loss; puffiness under the eyes; and nausea.

Causes, and Probable Complications

If you have ignored urinary tract infection (UTI) for long, you could end up by paying the price with pyelonephritis leading to CKD. However, the various kinds of diabetes are a bigger causative as all of them cause stress on the kidneys, eventually leading to dysfunction. Obesity, smoking, and copious imbibing of alcohol can damage your kidneys. Glomerulonephritis, kidney stones, interstitial nephritis, polycystic kidney disease, and nephrotic syndrome have also been known to bring on CKD. One of the ignored, or neglected conditions causing CKD is vesicoureteral reflux, a condition that causes urine to back up into your kidneys. Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and IgA nephropathy, and illegal drug abuse could be at the root of your renal issues. Other factors include family history or renal disease, old age, and race — Asians and Africans are more susceptible to kidney disease. While CKD is troublesome, there are several complications which can make your life, and that of your caregivers challenging.

Complications You Don’t Want, But May Not Have Much Choice About

The complication which might have actually prompted you to visit the doctor is swelling of limbs caused by fluid retention. While it can cause high blood pressure (BP); if you were already hypertensive, then your BP might begin to spiral out of control. There could be fluid retention in the lungs, which can cause breathing problems, and damage to the lungs. The blood vessels could be damaged which would mean that oxygen is not carried properly from your lungs and that nutrients don’t reach all parts of the body causing anemia and weak bones. Potassium levels in your blood could rise causing hyperkalemia, thereby impairing cardiac function, and might become life-threatening. Irreversible damage to your kidneys (ESRD) would eventually require either dialysis or a kidney transplant for survival.

You might become more susceptible to infections: One of the worst complications of CKD is that the immune response gets impaired, making you a sitting duck for all kinds of infections. There could be damage to the central nervous system causing seizures, and personality changes, not just difficulty in concentrating; thereby creating challenges at the workplace and home. Lowered sex drive and erectile dysfunction would impair quality of life.

What You Should Do to Avoid Kidney Disease

Your best options to avoid kidney disease are to manage weight and watch what you eat or drink. Those fried sweetmeats like gulab jamun, jalebi, and imarti are so tantalizing, but are so many bites to illness, and even death. Dairy products, foods high in potassium content, and rich in fats should be eaten sparingly. Reduce your intake of salt and sugar. Too many chemical painkillers damage your kidneys. Seek other options like a hot or cold compress, yoga, and foodstuffs that have natural pain relievers to alleviate any chronic pains you suffer. Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water, but avoid aerated cold drinks such as colas like poison. Maintain high levels of personal hygiene. Quit smoking.

Treatment Options Near You

There are highly qualified urologists at the Asian Institute of Medical Science who would be able to identify your issues and offer appropriate interventions like medicinal, dialysis, and surgical interventions.

Content Reviewed by – Asian Hospital Medical Editors