Renal Disorders in women: Causes and preventions

Kidney disorders are a worldwide health concern with severe outcomes of kidney failure and premature mortality. It is currently the 8th leading cause of mortality among women. It comes as a shock to many, but the kidneys, each about the size of a fist, play a major role in a person’s well-being.

Prevalence of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) among women is as common as among men to the extent that women are 5% more likely to develop CKD in comparison to men.

CKD is also considered a risk factor for adverse pregnancy outcome and reduced fertility. Women who have CKD are at increased risk of negative outcomes for the mother and the baby. Pregnancies in women with advanced CKD are most challenging with high rates of hypertensive disorders and pre-term births.

What causes renal disorders?

Kidney diseases are mostly caused due to diabetes, high blood pressure, and hardening of the arteries. However, some of these diseases can also occur due to the inflammation of the kidneys. This condition is called Nephritis.

Some anatomic disorders too can lead to Renal Diseases besides the ones resulting from metabolic disorders. The chances of the latter happening, however, are thin as the cases of metabolic kidney disorders are rare since they need to be inherited from both parents.

The other causes may as well include blockage of the system that drains the kidneys or the medications that are toxic to the kidney tissue.

Since the causes can vary, so can the symptoms. Some very common symptoms, however, are too much or too little urine, or passing of blood, or abnormal levels of chemicals in urine. But if the disease is caused by a bacterial infection, the first sign is a high fever. In case of moderate or mild kidney diseases, there are sometimes no symptoms at all.

But to say that these do not cause any pain will be wrong. Kidney stones in the ureter are seen to cause some cramping pain that spreads from the lower back into the groin. The disease can lead to Chronic or Acute Kidney Failure. While the failure of kidneys in the former happens gradually, the latter may happen within a few hours or days. However, it is important to note that both are life-threatening.

Rising renal problems in kids

The occurrence of renal failure in Indian kids has been increasing at an alarming rate in India. 20% of Indian kids are suffering from kidney diseases. Parents have a leading role in keeping their child healthy and lead a disease free life.

  • Diet: A balanced diet contains a mixture of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Avoid processed foods and fizzy drinks in order to maintain sugar and salt levels. Parents should keep their children fit, active and eating well to ensure that they do not become overweight. Parents should encourage children to take part in sports and physical activities to keep them fit.
  • Consume water: Healthy fluid intake is necessary for children, especially water. But if a child is dehydrated he/she should not urinate more frequently as the water gets absorbed by the body.
  • No smoking: Teenage is the age that is most attractive for cigarettes and hence parents should keep an eye on their children.
  • Medicines and drugs: Aspirin and other banned drug usages may directly affect the kidney or liver. It dehydrates the body and succeeds in kidney failure.
  • Reduce sodium intake: Too much sodium can lead to hypertension, so cutting down on salt intake is better. 1.5 to 2.3 grams daily is the prescribed amount of salt intake.
  • Increase potassium: Potassium helps in balancing the water level and reduces the effect of sodium thereby reducing blood pressure. So it is important that kids are nourished with potassium-rich food (potato, spinach, beans, low-fat dairy products).

How to diagnose?

The real problem, however, lies in the diagnosis of the disease because unless there’s a tumor or the kidneys are swollen, it becomes difficult for the doctors to check by simply feeling the kidneys. There are, however, tests that check the kidney tissues, take urine samples and checks for protein, sugar, blood, ketones, etc.

What are the treatment options?

When treating kidneys, doctors tend to concentrate more on the underlying cause of the disease. The infections can also be cured by antibiotics if the infection is caused by bacteria.

In the case of acute kidney failure, this scheme works best. In such cases treating the original cause can help return the kidney to its normal functioning. But in most of the kidney failure cases, the blood pressure has to be first brought to normal in order to evade any further progression of the disease.

End-stage kidney failures are only controlled by dialysis or kidney transplant. Dialysis can be done once a week or more, depending on the condition. In the case of transplant, the diseased kidneys are replayed by new or healthy ones. These transplants are said to work 80% of the time. The only fear, in this case, is what if the body rejects the transplant. The risk, however, is worth it because a healthy kidney can help a person live and lead a better life.

The author Dr. Sudeep Singh Sachdev is a Nephrologist at Narayana Super Speciality Hospital, Gurugram.

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