World Kidney Day 2019
World Kidney Day is observed each year on the second Thursday in March. This is a worldwide initiative to increase awareness about kidney health and lifestyle changes needed to prevent kidney disease.
In 2019, World Kidney Day was observed on March 14, the second Thursday. The theme for 2019: “Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere”.
India’s kidney disease problem
Chronic kidney disease is a severe public health problem in India, with 1 in 10 people estimated to be suffering from some form of chronic kidney disorder (CKD).
About 1,75,000 new cases of kidney failure (stage V CKD) are reported in India each year, severe enough to need dialysis.
Unfortunately, kidney diseases have not received as much public attention as the extent of the problem deserves. Unless public awareness is increased to promote kidney health, India will face a grim health-cost crisis soon, more so with the high incidence of diabetes and heart disease in India. Diabetes, heart disease and kidney diseases are an interlinked triumvirate of grave health problems, with one often leading to the other two diseases.
Kidneys are a pair of organs in the lower back, one kidney positioned on either side of the spine. The kidneys fulfill the important role of filtering blood and removing toxins from the body. The toxins are sent to the bladder which the body then removes through urine.
Kidney failure occurs when kidneys cannot filter sufficient waste or toxins from the blood. Factors that can lead to kidney failure include toxic exposure to environmental pollutants, allergy to certain medications, acute and chronic diseases, severe dehydration, kidney trauma, etc.
Symptoms of kidney disease
If any or more of these symptoms are experienced, then medical consultation at the earliest is advisable to check for kidney disease, and prevent further or irreversible damage to the kidneys:
- Fatigue – a feeling of tiredness.
- Feeling cold – feeling cold when even in a warm room.
- Shortness of breath – even when there is no great physical exertion.
- Feeling faint, dizzy – anaemia caused due to kidney failure leads to the brain not getting sufficient oxygen, and this can cause dizziness or weakness.
- Inability to think clearly – the brain not getting enough oxygen can lead to memory problems or trouble with concentration.
- Itchiness – kidney failure causes the build-up of wastes in the blood, and this can cause severe itching.
- Swelling in the hands or the feet – kidney failure leads to excess fluid build-up in the body, causing swelling in the legs, ankles, feet, and hands.
- Swollen or puffy face – excess fluid build-up causes swelling in the face.
- Food tastes like metal – a build-up of wastes in the blood (called uremia) can make food taste different and cause bad breath.
- Ammonia breath – a build-up of wastes in the blood (called uremia) can cause bad breath.
- Upset stomach, nausea, vomiting – due to severe build-up of wastes in the blood (uremia).
- Frequent urination – particularly at night; there may be pressure or difficulty in urinating.
- Foamy or bubbly urine – kidneys make urine and so when kidneys are failing, the urine may change to be foamy or bubbly. This can lead to an above-normal amount of protein in the urine.
- Brown, red, or purple urine – the urine may contain blood.
- Diabetes – a major risk factor for kidney disease. Diabetes may damage nerves, and this can cause difficulty in emptying the bladder. The pressure from a full bladder can injure the kidneys, or cause an infection.
Better management of kidney disease
As in other developing countries, India faces challenges that hinder the early diagnosis and management of chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Inadequate facilities and shortage of expertise have to be addressed across the country.
Prevention and early detection of kidney disease need the involvement of physicians at all levels. Most kidney diseases at the early stages can be managed by primary physicians with timely nephrology referrals.
Public awareness has to be created to promote healthy lifestyles such as regular exercise, losing weight, a healthy diet, avoiding smoking and alcohol consumption.
Taking care to control blood sugar in diabetics helps to prevent kidney diseases, coronary heart diseases, and stroke.