THINK KIDNEYS! — How to look after your kidneys

Over the last few weeks, I have come across a lot of appeals on social media by patients who are in desperate need of funds for kidney transplant operation abroad. The money needed, runs into millions of naira and is hardly affordable by the ordinary Nigerian. Also the cost of dialysis is not affordable for many people.

This has prompted me to create awareness and share information about ‘kidney health’ and how we can look after our kidneys.

Our kidneys are very hard working organs, and we need to be aware of the functions of the kidneys and what we can do to help reduce the risk of acute kidney disease and chronic kidney disease.

I have summarised some patient friendly information from the Think kidneys website and attached a link to a leaflet which I have found really informative and useful.

THINK KIDNEYS!

The kidneys perform five important tasks for the body.

  1. They remove waste products and toxins from the body, including drugs, by making urine.

What is Acute Kidney Injury (AKI)?

Acute is a term used to describe something that has occurred over hours or days (as opposed to chronic which means months or years).

Kidney Injury describes evidence of damage to the kidneys usually with a change in kidney function tests and passing only small amounts of urine

What are the symptoms?

In the early stages, there may not be any, but symptoms may be related to the illness which causes the AKI, such as diarrhoea and vomiting, low blood pressure with light headedness and passing only small volumes of urine. It’s very important that AKI is detected early and treated promptly as in some cases it can be very serious. In the large majority of cases early detection and treatment will result in resolution of the AKI.

How can you assess kidney function?

Kidney function is usually assessed by testing the blood for waste products. This includes creatinine which comes from our muscles and can build up if the kidneys are not functioning well. The hospital laboratory is then able to provide an estimate of the efficiency of the kidneys. It is also important to test the urine to look for evidence of kidney damage or inflammation.

What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

If there is evidence of abnormal kidney function which lasts for more than three months then this is called Chronic Kidney Disease.

What are the usual causes of Chronic Kidney Disease?

Chronic Kidney Disease is very common particularly in older people. It is most commonly associated with high blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes — both type 1 and type 2 it is also more common in people from black and ethnic minority groups.

There are some inherited conditions such as Polycystic Kidney Disease, which cause Chronic Kidney Disease to be more common in families.

Some people develop inflammation in the kidney such as glomerulonephritis or systemic lupus erythematosus, which can cause long term damage.

What should I do to reduce my risk of kidney damage?

Our kidneys are very hard working organs and it is only when they fall below 10% efficiency that the body may need help such as dialysis.

There are important things which you can do to help keep your kidneys healthy. This involves healthy living keeping your weight controlled, minimising salt or low salt alternatives in your diet and not smoking.

If you have diabetes or high blood pressure; good control of these illnesses can help stabilise kidney function. Your doctor or nurse can advise you about this. If you have been taking regular anti-inflammatory medication this may be reviewed and you may be offered alternative treatment.

Please see your pharmacist for a medication review if you take regular medication like NSAIDs — Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Diclofenac etc.

Don’t forget to have your blood tests done to check your kidney function, if you have diabetes, High blood pressure or taking certain medication regularly.

Please discuss any concerns you may have about your kidneys with a healthcare professional or if you need any more information talk to your local doctor, pharmacist or nurse.

Please click on the link below for ‘Almost everything you need to know about your kidneys’ from thinkkidneys.nhs.uk

https://www.thinkkidneys.nhs.uk/aki/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2017/12/Think-Kidneys-Infographic-030316-campaign-final.pdf

Reference : thinkkidneys.nhs.uk {Accessed: 20/3/19}

Article by

Adaku Efuribe

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Adaku Efuribe

Forbes Ignite Featured- Creates Social Impact & Sustainability | Health Promotion Ambassador |UN SDGs Advocate