Of the various health conditions prevalent, chronic kidney disease or CKD has been identified as a major contributor to global morbidity and mortality as per the global burden of Disease. There are still limited opportunities for secondary and tertiary prevention of this condition in countries like India, with patients seeking medical help only in the later stages. The fact that major burden of this condition is concentrated in socio-economically backward regions makes it a bigger challenge.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is characterised by a gradual loss of kidney function over time and may eventually lead to kidney failure, causing patients to undergo dialysis or a kidney transplant. The signs and symptoms are not noticeable until the disease is fairly well advanced and the condition has become severe. This is why it becomes imperative to be aware of the symptoms. Here are some things to know.
Increased tiredness and less energy When kidney function declines, it leads to a build-up of toxins in the blood. This is why people with this condition feel tired and weak and are unable to focus. Anaemia is another complication of kidney disease which can cause weakness.
Lack of sleep In the absence of proper filtration, toxins are unable to leave the body through urine. This is why people with this condition find it hard to sleep. They are also more prone to sleep apnea.
Skin dryness and itch healthy kidneys not only filter out toxins but also help in the formation of red blood cells, keep bones strong and maintain mineral balance. In people with advanced kidney disease, there is an imbalance of minerals and nutrients and therefore, they suffer from dry and itchy skin.
Frequent urination and blood in urine damaged kidneys can lead to a frequent urge to urinate, especially at night. There could also be blood in the urine. This is because when the kidney filters are damaged, blood cells also leak out along with urine. This could also be an indication of some other infection or health condition.
Foamy urine kidney disease can lead to excessive bubbles in the urine. This happens due to the presence of protein in urine called albumin. This is also an early sign of the fact that there has been damage to the kidney filters and the first sign of this is persistent puffiness around the eyes.
Swelling of feet and ankles When kidney function declines, there could be swelling in the feet and ankles due to sodium retention. It can also be an indication of other conditions such as heart and liver disease or chronic leg vein problems.
Poor appetite a very general symptom - poor appetite can be outcome of a build-up of toxins due to reduced kidney function.
Muscle cramps poor kidney function causes electrolyte imbalances such as low calcium levels and poorly controlled phosphorus. This is the reason why people with kidney disease have muscle cramps frequently.
Those who are diagnosed with chronic kidney disease should mandatorily follow certain guidelines around their diet. This is because the kidneys are unable to filter waste products and fluids effectively.
- Salt or sodium is a major contributing factor and therefore, its consumption should be restricted. High salt intake can cause fluid retention. Low-salt substitutes must also be avoided since they can have high levels of potassium
- One should also follow a low-protein diet to slow down the progression of the disease. This kind of diet will also avoid the build-up of excess urea and aids in repair
- Potassium levels can be high in patients undergoing dialysis. Therefore, its consumption must be restricted in consultation with a specialist. High potassium levels are dangerous and can lead to a cardiac arrest. Apart from this, phosphorus levels must also be controlled
- Monitor fluid intake but do not restrict them unless there is an issue of overload. This is more so in patients who are not on dialysis
- Healthy eating can contain the progression of the disease. It can also control blood pressure, weight, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Portion size is critical in patients with kidney disease
On World Kidney Day, there is a need to raise all-round awareness about CKD and ensure that people take health advice in a timely manner. There are various home healthcare agencies today that help in managing people with this condition in the comfort of their homes. This coupled with awareness can help in nipping the condition in the bud.