World Kidney Day, which falls on March 8th this year, is a global awareness day aimed at increasing awareness around the importance of our kidneys to reduce the impact of kidney disease. Specifically it aims to increase awareness about preventive behaviours, risk factors, and about how to live with kidney disease.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a non-communicable disease that affects 1 in 10 people worldwide, with millions of people dying prematurely due to complications related to CKD. It is a progressive loss in kidney function that can occur over a period of months or years. Our kidneys contain millions of nephrons, which are tiny filters that clean our blood, when these become damaged, they stop working. The remaining healthy nephrons can take on the work of the damaged nephrons in the short-term. However, as more and more nephrons become damaged and shut down, the healthy nephrons that remain cannot filter our blood well enough to keep us healthy. Eventually when kidney function falls below a certain point, kidney failure occurs which can leave you very ill and if left untreated, can be life-threatening.
High Risk Factors For CKD
- If you have high-blood pressure (The cause of over 25% of cases)
- If you have diabetes (The cause of over 33.3% of cases)
- If you are obsese
- If one of your parents or other family members suffers from kidney disease
- If you are of African, Asian, or Aboriginal origin
8 Golden Rules For Prevention
- Keep fit and active
- Keep regular control of your blood sugar level
- Monitor your blood pressure
- Eat healthy and keep your weight in check
- Maintain a healthy fluid intake
- Do not smoke
- Do not take over-the-counter pills on a regular basis
- Get your kidney function checked if you have one or more of the ‘high risk’ factors
Kidney Disease Treatment
There is no cure for CKD, however there are treatments that can help control symptoms and slow progression of the disease. The main treatments are a proper diet and medications, and for those who reach End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), long term dialysis treatment or kidney transplantation. In the early stages, it is recommended to lower your protein intake while eating a healthy diet. In addition, there are medications that can help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, maintain iron levels and medications to help relieve side effects of kidney disease such as swelling. Dialysis treatments may be needed in the later stages to help remove the wastes and fluids that accumulate in your body as a result of kidney disease. For chronic kidney disease, a kidney transplant may be necessary in order to perform the functions your own diseased kidneys can no longer perform.
For more information on preventive behaviors, risk factors, and about how to live with a kidney disease, see the official website for World Kidney Day here.