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Chronic Kidney Diseases and Ways to Prevent Them

​The main job of kidneys is to eliminate toxins, excess water, and waste products from the body and, consequently, keep us healthy. They also regulate blood pressure and minerals (like sodium and potassium) in the blood and produce red blood cells. Any discrepancy in their functioning adversely affects the body. There are several types of kidney conditions, including:

  • Chronic kidney disease (CKD)
  • Nephrotic syndrome
  • Renal stones
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Congenital/hereditary diseases like polycystic kidney disease

  • CKD


    CKD, which causes irreversible damage to the kidneys, has become one of the leading kidney problems affecting people worldwide. The kidney function of those suffering from CKD declines over months or years. If CKD is left untreated, it leads to end-stage renal disease (ESRD), which is kidney failure requiring treatment with dialysis or a kidney transplant. The leading causes of this kidney problem are diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure).
    CKD is the most common kidney condition in India. As of 2014, one in every 10 adults in India had CKD. However, the accurate prevalence of CKD in India is unknown because there's no national registry, no universal access to Renal Replacement Therapy (RRT), and only a few dedicated centres to treat such patients.

    Symptoms


    Symptoms of CKD depend on its stage:
  • Stage 1
  • There are typically no symptoms as kidneys function at 90% or higher capacity.

  • Stage 2
  • In this stage, kidneys function at 60%-89% capacity. You may show nonspecific symptoms, such as itching, weakness, loss of appetite, fatigue, and sleep problems.

  • Stage 3
  • This stage is divided into stage 3A (kidneys function at 45%-59% capacity) and stage 3B (kidneys function at 30%-44% capacity). Stage 3 symptoms include:-
    Swelling in the hands and feet
    Back pain
    Urinating less or more than usual
    Sleep problems
    Fatigue
    Loss of appetite
    Weakness
    Persistent itching
    Complications may include high blood pressure, anaemia, and bone disease.
  • Stage 4
  • In stage 4, kidneys have moderate-to-severe damage and are functioning between 15% and 29%. Stage 4 symptoms include the same as those in stage 3 and:
    Reduced mental sharpness
    Muscle cramps or twitches
    Shortness of breath
    Nausea and vomiting
    Chest pain
    Complications can be the same as those in stage 3, along with stroke and heart disease.

  • Stage 5
  • In stage 5, your kidneys work at less than 15% capacity or you suffer from kidney failure (ESRD). Symptoms of ESRD are an intense form of the ones mentioned above.

    Treatment


    If your CKD progresses to ESRD, you have two treatment options—dialysis (removing waste products and excess fluids from the blood) or kidney transplant (replacing your failing/failed kidneys with healthy ones). Having health insurance can be a life saviour if you require any of these—kidney treatment costs in India are high.
    Dialysis treatment costs range between Rs. 12,000 and Rs. 20,000 per month, and getting a kidney transplant at private hospitals without health insurance coverage can cost you anywhere between Rs. 5 lakhs and Rs. 9 lakhs. Health insurance benefits include financial security if you must undergo any such treatments. Get critical illness insurance to avoid financial concerns if you're diagnosed with CKD/ESRD.

    Prevention


    Measures that can help keep CKD/ESRD at bay include:

  • Maintaining a healthy diet, including avoiding excessive salt (sodium) intake
  • Exercising regularly to lower blood pressure and improve muscle functioning
  • Controlling glucose and lipids to prevent diabetes/keep diabetes in check
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight to prevent your kidneys from having to work harder at filtering out toxins
  • Quitting smoking as smoke slows down the flow of blood to organs like kidneys

  • Following these tips can lead you to a long and healthy life.