Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

LAST year, there were 4,000 new patients with kidney failure in the country who needed dialysis treatment, according to the National Kidney Foundation (NKF).

Globally, more than 500 million individuals or about 1 in 10 adults have some form of chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is when the kidneys can no longer eliminate bodily waste because of several factors — such as infections or underlying chronic diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes.

According to the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), the number of chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients in need of dialysis increases every year, with 24,000 on treatment last year.

Besides the growing number of patients, what is even scarier is that many people are unaware that their kidneys are damaged until it is too late.

“The signs and symptoms will only appear in later stages. It’s a silent killer, but preventable if the public is willing to make some simple changes in their lifestyle,” says National Kidney Foundation (NKF) honorary secretary Dr JD John.

A sedentary lifestyle and bad eating habits are the two main culprits of kidney failure.

“Lack of exercise and eating too much fast food or processed food as well as sweetened drinks can lead to various illnesses, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. More than 60 per cent of new cases develope from high blood pressure and diabetes,” says Dr John who adds that kidney disease can also develop from infection, inflammation of blood vessels in the kidneys, kidney stones and cysts.

Other possible causes include prolonged consumption of pain relievers, alcohol or drugs including prescription medication.

“Taking questionable or unauthorised supplements (like those not approved by the Health Ministry) or slimming pills can also have an impact on one’s kidneys,” he says.

Dr John says healthy individuals just need to take five simple steps to protect themselves.
These are:

1. Practise good eating habits (lower the fat, salt and sugar content in your diet and add more fibre, fruit and vegetables), and a healthy lifestyle (stop smoking!).
2. Exercise three times a week, 30 minutes per session if possible.
3. Drink at least six glasses of water a day (helps your kidneys to function).
4. Don’t take unauthorised medications or supplements.
5. Go for health screening, especially those who fall under the high-risk groups (those who smoke or are obese, are over 50 years of age, those with a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease, as well as patients with diabetes, high blood pressure or other kidney diseases).

As for current patients, Dr John advises that they maintain a healthy diet, do low-impact exercises such as walking, and control their body weight, blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels.

Signs and symptoms

FEW people are aware of kidney damage until they have had a medical examination. Depending on the type of kidney disease, individuals may experience some of the following symptoms:

1. Discomfort or burning sensation when passing urine.
2. Blood in the urine.
3. A change in the frequency of urination.
4. Back pain.
5. Frequent urination especially during the night.
6. Swelling of the ankles.
7. Persistent puffiness around the eyes, particularly in the morning.

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