World Kidney Day: Are you at risk of kidney disease?

Every year World Kidney Day is celebrated on the second Thursday of March to create awareness about kidney disease. This practice originated in the year 2006 and every year the campaign has different themes. The theme for this year is - 'kidney health for all.' With growing awareness about health in India, it important to highlight the importance of kidneys and how they are affected by one's lifestyle. There are various factors that cause kidney disease but not many of us are aware of it. Statistics show that between 8 to 10% of the adult population have some form of kidney damage, and every year millions die prematurely of complications related to Chronic Kidney Diseases (CKD).

Kidney disease is a condition where the functioning of kidneys is hampered, mostly due to factors such as an infection, physiological problems like autoimmune disorders or physical damage to the kidney. The main function of the kidneys is filtering toxins from the body, maintaining blood pressure and the acid-base levels in the body, regulate urinary system, which is key in removing toxins from the body. Kidney disease was thought to be prevalent among older people but now it is also common in young adults. (Read: 3 important reasons to get a kidney check up)

(Read: Beat kidney disease with these alternative remedies)

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Risk factors

Risk factors for kidney disease are grouped under modifiable and non-modifiable categories. Although you cannot do anything about the non-modifiable risk factors, lifestyle related factors can be controlled well in time to reduce the progression of kidney disease.

  1. Diabetes
  2. Hypertension or high blood pressure
  3. Family history of kidney disease
  4. Old age
  5. Heart disease
  6. Obesity
  7. Alcohol intake
  8. Drug abuse/Drug overdose
  9. Race/Ethnicity
  10. Male sex
  11. Smoking

Most common symptoms of kidney disease include:

  1. Changes in urinary function: This is the most important indicator of the health of your kidneys. Any alteration in the frequency and quantity of urine passed - change in colour of the urine (darker than usual), or the urge to urinate but unable to pass it. According to Dr Avinash Ignatius, senior consultant nephrologist DaVita, Pune region, Frequent urination at night is one of the most common and early symptoms of chronic kidney disease and it should not be ignored even though it is harmless. Other symptoms of the disease usually develop at a later stage after the kidney has lost approximately 80% of its function.
  2. Difficulty or pain during passing urine
  3. Blood in the urine: A symptom that is a cause of concern and shouldn't be ignored.
  4. Foamy urine: Foamy urine is caused due to leakage of proteins from the person's body.
  5. Swelling or oedema: This is a fairly common symptom as the main function of the kidneys is removal of waste or extra fluid from the body, and when the kidneys are unable to do it, extra fluid builds up in the body causing swelling.
  6. Extremefatigue,anaemiaand generalised weakness: Kidney malfunction results in low levels of the hormone erythropoetin that helps red blood cells carry oxygen. As a result, the number of red blood cells drop causing anaemia, which also leads to symptoms like generalised weakness and extreme fatigue.
  7. Ammonia breath and metallic taste: Kidney failure increases the level of urea in blood (uraemia). This urea is broken down to ammonia in the saliva causing urine-like bad breath called ammonia breath. It is also usually associated with an unpleasant metallic taste (dysgeusia) in the mouth.
  8. Nausea and vomiting: The build up of waste products in the blood in kidney can result in nausea and vomiting.
  9. Pain in the back or sides: This is a common indicator of kidney disease, but is not seen in all people suffering from the condition. The pain is characteristic and you may feel a severe cramping pain that spreads from the lower back into the groin. This symptom could be an indicator of a number of conditions, like:
  • Kidney stone or one in the ureter could be a cause of this pain.
  • Conditions like polycystic kidney disease an inherited kidney disorder, which causes many fluid-filled cysts in the kidneys.
  • Interstitial cystitis a chronic inflammation of the bladder wall.

It is important to get your kidneys diagnosed at the right time if you experience any of these symptoms to prevent your kidney health from worsening. Apart from these your medications can also damage your kidneys.

You may like to read:

1. Beat kidney disease with these alternative remedies

2. 8 tests for checking if your kidneys are functioning fine

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