You Ask , They Answer
: What is kidney failure and its root causes ?
: Chronic Kidney Disease is the gradual reduction in kidney function , i . e ., its ability to filter waste and excess fluids from the body . End Stage Renal Disease , also called End Stage Kidney Disease or kidney failure , is an advanced stage of the disease , leaving a person with less than 15 percent of normal kidney function , when waste products and fluid can accumulate to dangerous levels .
: Who is at risk of kidney failure and what are its tell-tale signs ?
: People at risk of kidney failure have health conditions or take medications that can damage the filters within the kidneys . The common causes are diabetes with poorly controlled blood sugar , high blood pressure , inflammatory and immunological diseases related to drugs , an overactive immune system as well as obstruction of the urinary system by stones , an enlarged prostate , severe infections of the urinary system , and inherited conditions such as Polycystic Kidney Disease or Alport ’ s Syndrome .
Globally , diabetics account for the majority of people with kidney failure , with the rise in obesity and early onset Type 2 diabetes a growing concern .
Because kidneys can compensate for loss of function , signs and symptoms of kidney disease are seen only once a person has lost more than 50 percent of function , which is why it ’ s called the silent disease .
Some early signs are blood and / or protein in the urine , high blood pressure in a young person , and swelling in your legs . Late signs and symptoms include progressive swelling in the legs , abdomen , and face ; nausea and vomiting ; dry , itchy skin ; pallor and lethargy due to anaemia ; shortness of breath on exertion , and brittle bones .
: Which treatments are available ? Is kidney transplantation always required ?
: Treatments address the complications that arise in people with kidney failure . For example , diuretics , a medication that increases urination , can reduce swelling . Erythropoeitin , a synthetic hormone , and vitamins are prescribed to correct anemia . Calcium supplements and vitamin D can treat brittle bones . In some cases , patients require dialysis , which is a procedure that removes waste products and excess fluid from the blood to replace the filtration function of the kidneys , clearing about 10-15 percent of what a normal kidney does .
Kidney transplantation , which involves implanting a new kidney from either a living or deceased donor , provides the best outcomes in terms of prolonging life and quality of life , but kidneys and suitable donors are rare . When a patient is unfit for surgery , dialysis provides a wonderful alternative , allowing patients to prolong life from two to 30 years .
: How can people prevent kidney failure and take care of their kidneys ?
: Kidney failure is a non-communicable disease resulting from too much food , too little physical activity , and exposure to toxins , including sugar and alcohol . Simple steps to prevent kidney failure :
• Eating a healthy diet to maintain an appropriate weight
• Regular physical activity
• Adherence to therapy and follow up once diagnosed with diabetes or hypertension
• Avoid self-medicating , smoking , and excessive alcohol intake
• Early screening if you have risk factors or family history of kidney disease
Dr Nirmala Baskaran
Dr Nirmala Baskaran is a consultant nephrologist at Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur .
14 ISSUE 6 | 2022 GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com