Globally an estimated 850 million people are suffering from kidney diseases and around 2.4 million deaths are the result of chronic kidney disease which is considered the 6th fastest growing cause of death. World Kidney Day is held on March 14th which helps raise awareness about the increasing burden of kidney diseases globally and to reduce the impact of kidney disease and its associated problems. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) joins organizations around the world to highlight the theme of this year, “Kidney Health for Everyone, Everywhere.” It is estimated that more than 30 million adults in the United States may have chronic kidney disease which is an irreversible condition and most of them are not even aware of it as the early stage of the disease often does not present any symptoms. For those interested in being a part of the world kidney day, join NIDDK in raising awareness about kidney health so the conditions could be detected earlier which can slow the progression of the disease and thereby preventing or even delaying the kidney failure. For more information, visit www.niddk.nih.gov.Also, you can connect with World Kidney Day and be a part of the 2019 campaign. The objectives of the world kidney day are to encourage systematic screenings of individuals with diabetes and hypertension, highlight the key risk factors of chronic kidney disease and to encourage preventative behaviors.

“The global silent epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease can only grow, since risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, smoking and high blood pressure continue to grow in many regions” says Professor Deidra Crews of the WKD Joint Steering Committee. “We could encourage anyone with one or more risk factors for chronic kidney disease to have their kidney health checked by their doctor including both blood and urine tests. It may say their life.”

What is chronic kidney disease?

According to the American Kidney Fund, an estimated 30 million individuals in the United States are living with chronic kidney disease. The term refers to the lasting damage to the kidneys that can become worse over months or years. Each kidney has about a million tiny filters known as nephrons and when they are damaged, the healthy nephrons take on the extra work, but if the damage continues, more nephrons continue to shut down. As the result, the blood cannot be filtered properly to keep the individual healthy. And, when the kidney function deteriorates to a certain point, the person could end up with a life-threatening kidney failure which if left untreated requires dialysis or kidney transplantation.

The two common risks of developing chronic kidney disease is high blood pressure (hypertension) which accounts for around a quarter of all cases of kidney failure and diabetes is established as the cause in around one-third of all cases. Some of the other conditions of developing chronic kidney disease include inflammation (glomerulonephritis), infections (pyelonephritis), polycystic disease or as the result of longstanding blockage to the urinary system such as a kidney stone.

Indications of Chronic Kidney Disease

In the early stage of the disease, usually, no symptoms are evident. As the condition gradually becomes worse, the symptoms become evident as the kidneys are badly damaged. It is estimated that before an individual experience symptoms of kidney disease, about 90% of the kidney functions are lost.

In the late stage of chronic kidney disease resulting in kidney failure, symptoms become apparent as the waste and extra fluid accumulate in the body. Some of the indications of the kidney failure include;

  • Itching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Excess urination or not enough
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Blood in the urine or foamy urine
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Swelling of the feet and ankles

In the case of acute kidney failure when they stop working suddenly, the symptoms can include;

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Back pain
  • Nosebleeds
  • Rash

Any problem with the kidney function affects how the rest of the body works. Experiencing one or more of the symptoms could be an indication of serious kidney problems. Therefore, it is important to seek medical intervention immediately as the common complications of chronic kidney disease can include anemia, high potassium, high calcium, bone disease and heart disease.

Early Detection

As most of the individuals with an early stage of the disease often go undiagnosed, the World Kidney Day calls on everyone to check to see if they are at risk for kidney disease by taking a simple kidney function test. Early detection can help in initiating suitable treatment before further damage manifests through other complications. Some of the tests used to determine the function of the kidney includes;

  • eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate): This indicates the total kidney function and may be estimated from the blood level creatinine. An excess amount of creatinine could be an indication that the kidneys are having trouble filtering the waste from the blood. If the eGFR is less than 60 for a period of three months or more, this then indicates kidney disease.
  • Urine albumin: The excess amount of protein in the urine is also an indication of kidney disease and an indication for premature heart attacks and stroke.
  • Blood pressure: This indicates how hard your heart is pumping the blood and sometimes, high blood pressure is also a sign of the kidneys not functioning well.

Treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease

There is no cure for chronic kidney disease but the treatment can slow the progression of the disease and to prevent the development of other serious problems associated with it. If early stage of the disease is detected, then the treatment consists of medications and proper diet that can help with the management of the disease. But, in the case of kidney failure, the treatment also consists of dialysis to remove the excess waste from the body. Or alternatively, medications and a healthy diet can help restore kidney function but the severe cases require kidney transplantation.

Special Diet for those with Chronic Kidney Disease

Every individual’s nutrition need is different and therefore this is a basic guide for those with chronic kidney disease and it is important to work with the renal dietician to find a suitable meal plan. One of the best ways to prevent kidney disease from getting worse is by controlling diabetes and high blood pressure. Some of the dietary tips are: Limiting carbohydrates that are high in potassium and phosphorous based on the stage of the kidney disease

  • Limiting fat in the diet but including healthier fats whenever possible such as corn oil, peanut oil and olive oil
  • Excess sodium can raise blood pressure which can damage the kidneys more, so limit sodium in the meals
  • Portion control with food by watching how much you eat
  • Depending on the stage of the kidney disease, you may be advised to limit the fluid intake.