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Kidney Health For All - From Kidney Disease Preventive Tips to Effective Treatments

1 in 10 adults suffers from kidney complications of some form. While about 9% are vulnerable to developing a kidney-related health condition. 

World Kidney Day is celebrated on the 2nd Thursday of every March. It is done to raise awareness of the importance of the well-being of this hardworking organ. And with chronic kidney disease on the rise to be one of the top causes of death, it's high time we open our eyes.

Kidney Health For All - From Kidney Disease Preventive Tips to Effective Treatments

Our kidneys work 24 hours a day to filter and purify about 200 liters of blood regularly. This helps the body get rid of harmful toxins, waste, and extra water needed to function optimally. They also adjust fluid content and manage hormone releases to balance blood pressure. Not only that, the kidneys produce red blood cells and boost bone health.

Thus, when a kidney disease strikes, the body is no longer able to maintain its harmonious balance. Becoming exposed to a host of health issues, with stroke and heart disease being the most common. 

Thankfully, early detection and following kidney health tips can make a huge difference. So, here’s a complete guide to keeping your kidneys smiling for a long time.

Kidney Disease - Overview

Kidney disease is a word used to describe any abnormality related to your kidneys. They can be categorized into two types - acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease (CKD). 

In acute kidney disease, the bean-shaped organ stops functioning all of a sudden.

Stages of Kidney Disease

But the situation is usually short term and recovery is possible. In contrast to that, chronic kidney disease is a severe condition and is long-term. It progresses slowly but causes complete and permanent kidney failure.

Stages of Kidney Disease

The severity of the kidney failure is determined by eGFR. It is the estimated glomerular filtration rate. One that judges the filtering ability of your kidneys. An eGFR of 100 or slightly less is considered normal. The lower this rate, the more extreme the condition. 

Here’s how kidney disease 5 stages are differentiated:

  • Stage I - GFR 100 to 90 hinting very mild damage.

  • Stage II - GFR 89 to 60 signaling mild loss of kidney functioning.

  • Stage III

  • IIIa - GFR 59 to 45 meaning kidney function loss mild to moderate.

  • IIIb - GFR 44 to 30 specifies moderate to severe kidney function loss.

  • Stage IV - GFR 29 to 15 indicating a severe loss of your kidney functioning ability.

  • Stage V - GFR less than 15 means close to or complete kidney failure.

Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease

Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease

The signs of CKD progress gradually over time. So, you may not feel much of a difference in the beginning unless it gets more severe. 

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Loss of appetite

  • Constant fatigue

  • Frequent urination

  • Foamy urine

  • Sleep difficulties

  • Muscle cramps

  • Swelling of body

  • Dry itchy skin

  • Shortness of breath 

  • Hypertension

  • Chest pain

  • Trouble concentrating

Common Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease

Various factors can leave your kidneys impaired. But the most common causes include:

  • Diabetes

  • High blood pressure

  • Glomerulonephritis (the filtering units (glomeruli) of kidneys get inflamed)

  • Polycystic kidney disease (genetic condition leading to clusters of cysts in kidneys)

  • Tubulointerstitial nephritis (inflammation on the kidney tubules and surrounding tissues)

  • Obstructions of the urinary tract (from kidney stones or cancer)

Besides these, obesity, age (over 60), family history, and smoking are other factors that put you at risk for CKD.

How to Treat A Kidney Disease?

The type of treatment a patient requires depends on the severity of their situation. In the mild stage, addressing the cause and taking necessary medications to reduce the symptoms work. But for kidneys, close-to-nonfunctional, end-stage kidney disease treatments are the only choice.

Sadly, we have no cure for chronic kidney disease. But the following treatments do provide some respite. 

  1. Kidney Dialysis

This process involves the use of machines to eliminate waste from your system. There are two types of dialysis.

  • Hemodialysis - At first, blood is circulated via a machine. This technique gets rid of the waste products and extra water and salt. Following this, the blood is returned to the body. This form of dialysis takes roughly 4 hours and is done three times a week. 

  • Peritoneal dialysis - It uses a catheter to provide a dialysis solution to the abdomen. The solution soaks up the waste, which is then eliminated using the same catheter. You can replicate this dialysis process at home but make sure to use a fresh solution every time you clean. 

Peritoneal dialysis, however, has two types:

  • Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) - You need to change the fluid 4 times a day.

  • Continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis (CCPD) - It uses a machine to fill, remove, and refill the solution automatically. 

Note: India has a Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Program (PMNDP) to help the poor. It has been implemented in 36 states and 748 districts as of January 2024. While over 22 lakh patients have availed the services. So, if you need monetary assistance, do reach out for help.

  1. Kidney Transplant

This is a surgical method that replaces an unhealthy kidney with a healthy one from a donor. Donors can be both living and deceased. In the case of the former, it is usually a friend, relative, or family member willing to donate. For the latter, it comes from an organ donor. 

The transplantation is done only after proper screening. This is important to find a compatible match. As well as to prevent any transmissible diseases. 

Note: Needy people can get $10,000/month for post-transplant care. This is a grant in aid under the National Organ Transplant Program. There’s also Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi (RAN). It provides up to Rs 15 lakh for the treatment of below-poverty-line patients. 

How to Improve Kidney Health? - Preventive Tips for Chronic Kidney Disease

As we already know, CKD has no permanent cure. But that does not mean you can’t prevent your kidneys from reaching such a detrimental stage. 

How to Improve Kidney Health? - Preventive Tips for Chronic Kidney Disease

  • Don’t let diabetes and high blood pressure take control.

  • If you are high-risk, go for timely kidney health checks to ensure early detection. This includes a blood test for eGFR and a urine test for urine albumin-creatinine ratio. 

  • Eat foods good for kidney health such as nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. At the same time, manage your intake of phosphorus, potassium, protein, and salt. 

  • Exercise regularly to avoid unnecessary weight gain.

  • Make healthy lifestyle changes by avoiding alcohol, smoking, and tobacco.

  • Avoid taking medicines without supervision.

Also, attend sessions providing health education for chronic kidney disease. Like ‘Kidney Health for All’ organized by AIIMS New Delhi’s Department of Neurology on the occasion of World Kidney Day, 24. These informative programs make you more aware and proactive towards kidney health.

Final Thoughts

A chronic kidney disease diagnosis may not offer a life back to full health. However proper discipline, care, and a healthy kidney health diet can make CKD manageable. For treatment, get dialysis on time, or register for a transplant.

As for the rest of us, we can do our part too to make life easy for CKD patients. Echoing PM Modi's words in Mann Ki Baat, “1 organ donor can save 8 lives”, let's come forward to donate.


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The Author : Dr. Sunil Khattri 

+91 9811618704

Dr. Sunil Khattri MBBS, MS(General Surgery), LLB, is a Medical doctor and is a practicing Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi.

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