Healthy lifestyle, regular check help to prevent kidney diseases
As the World Kidney Day is observed on Thursday March 14, 2019, Nigerians have been advised to adopt a healthy lifestyle and regularly visit their doctors to prevent kidney diseases.
Statistics have shown that 850 million people are estimated to have kidney diseases from various causes globally. Chronic kidney diseases (CKD) cause at least 2.4 million deaths per year and are now the sixth fastest growing cause of death.
Dr. Modupe Akinyinka, a Senior lecturer and Consultant Public Health Physician at Department of Community Health and Primary Health Care Lagos State University College of Medicine, said chronic kidney disease occurs when a disease or condition impairs kidney function, causing kidney damage to worsen over several months or years.
She said: “Causes of chronic kidney diseases include type 1 or type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, glomerulonephritis, an inflammation of the kidney’s filtering units (glomeruli), interstitial nephritis, an inflammation of the kidney’s tubules and surrounding structures, polycystic kidney disease, prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract, from conditions such as enlarged prostate, kidney stones and some cancers, vesicoureteral reflux, a condition that causes urine to go back up into the kidney and recurrent kidney infection, also called pyelonephritis.
“To prevent chronic kidney diseases, people should follow instructions on over-the-counter medications. When using non-prescription pain relievers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB and others) and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), they should follow the instructions on the package. Taking too many pain relievers could lead to kidney damage and should generally be avoided if you have kidney disease. Ask your doctor whether these drugs are safe for you or not.
“There is also need to maintain a healthy weight. If you’re at a healthy weight, work to maintain it by being physically active most days of the week. If you need to lose weight, talk with your doctor about strategies for healthy weight loss. Often this involves increasing daily physical activity and reducing calories.
“Do not smoke, as cigarette can damage the kidneys and make existing kidney damage worse. If you’re a smoker, talk to your doctor about strategies for quitting smoking. Support groups, counseling and medications can all help you to stop.
“It is also important to manage medical conditions with a doctor’s help. If you have diseases or conditions that increase your risk of kidney disease, work with your doctor to control them. Ask your doctor about tests to look for signs of kidney damage.”
Akinyinka explained that this year’s World Kidney Day’s theme: ‘Kidney health for everyone everywhere’ is to raise awareness of the high and increasing burden of kidney diseases worldwide and the need for strategies for kidney diseases prevention and management.
She said: “The theme calls for universal health coverage (UHC) for prevention and early treatment of kidney disease. The ultimate goal of a UHC policy is to promote population health by ensuring universal, sustainable and equitable access to essential healthcare of high quality, protecting people from health impoverishment and improving equity in health across socioeconomic groups.
“Specifically, WKD calls on everyone to advocate concrete measures in every country to improve kidney include encouraging and adopting healthy lifestyle (access to clean water, exercise, healthy diet and tobacco control, among others). Many types of kidney diseases can be prevented, delayed and kept under control when appropriate prevention measures are in place.
“It is equally important to make screening for kidney diseases a primary healthcare intervention, including access to identification tools (e.g. urine and blood tests). Screening of high-risk individuals and early diagnosis and treatment is cost effective to prevent or delay end-stage kidney diseases.
“Health workers should ensure kidney patients receive basic health services they need (e.g. blood pressure and cholesterol control, essential medications) to delay disease progression without suffering financial hardship.
“Call for transparent policies governing equitable and sustainable access to advanced healthcare services (e.g. dialysis and transplantation) and better financial protection (e.g. subsidies) as more resources become available. Breaking down socioeconomic barriers and expanding access to comprehensive services in order to meet the needs of the population is essential to guarantee equitable and quality kidney care.”
A Family Physician Dr. Chukwuma Ogunbor explained that CKDs are important contributors to increased morbidity and mortality from other diseases and risk, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, as well as infections such as HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and hepatitis. Furthermore, CKD in children not only lead to substantial morbidity and mortality during childhood, but also result in medical issues beyond childhood.
He said: “Despite the growing burden of kidney diseases worldwide, kidney health disparity and inequity are still widespread. CKD often arise from the social conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, including poverty, gender discrimination, lack of education, occupational hazards and pollution, among others.
“Transplantation is considered the most cost-effective treatment of CKD. However, it has high set up costs with regards to infrastructure and requires highly specialised teams, availability of organ donors and cannot be done without dialysis backup. Physical and legal infrastructure requirements and cultural bias against organ donation often present barriers in many states in the country, making dialysis the default option.
“However, while national policies and strategies for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in general are present in many countries, specific policies directed toward screening, prevention and treatment of kidney diseases are often lacking.
A Senior Lecturer and Consultant Nephrologist at College of Medicine, University of Lagos and Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Lagos, Dr. Bello Babawale, said treatment of CKDs depends on the type of kidney disease, the severity and presence or absence of other medical conditions.
He, however, explained that treatment of patients who present early, usually involves use of medications, including tablets and injections. When patients present late or the disease has progressed over time, there may be need to offer dialysis or kidney transplantation.
Is there any food that could help in preventing kidney disease, Bello said: “We should all endeavour to eat balanced diet. In all cases, we should endeavour to eat in moderation. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables are beneficial.
“Also, adequate fluid intake is necessary. In this environment, adults should take at least three litres of fluid daily. Refined foods and foods rich in sugar and saturated fat should be avoided.”
Bello explained that kidney disease could affect people of all ages. However, the risk of developing kidney disease appears to increase with age.
“But I would say it is important to note that the causes of kidney diseases tend to vary with age. People should see their doctor regularly, even when you feel well. Do not wait to fall ill before going to the hospital.”