Kidney failure is defined as a condition in which the kidneys lose the ability to remove waste and balance fluids. This happens as a result of uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure), uncontrolled diabetes, obesity and, in some instances, as a result of infection with HI Virus, to name a few.
The severity of the damage to the kidney is graded according to stages, with stage 1 being mild damage and Stage 5 being End Stage Renal Disease, at which point dialysis is prescribed to preserve life.
Dialysis is a procedure to remove waste products and excess fluids from the blood when kidneys stop working or their function is diminished significantly.
Kidney disease is more prevalent than we care to acknowledge. Also known as a silent killer, it often takes admission into hospital to detect the disease and its usually too late to reverse the damage and mitigate the impact of the disease on the individual.
Signs and symptoms are not distinct but one should pay great attention to the following
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Pitting oedema
- High blood pressure
- High glucose levels
- Dry itchy skin
- Puffiness around eyes
- Sudden need to urinate more often especially at night
- Unexplained tiredness
Some people present no symptoms at all, necessitating frequent kidney function tests in the vulnerable community. To combat the disease and raise awareness, the international society of nephrology and the international federation of kidney foundations adopted the initiative of World Kidney Day, celebrated every Thursday of March each year with the main objective of raising awareness. The first initiative was held in 2006 and has since been adopted worldwide.
To be commemorated on the 10th March 2022, World Kidney Day 2022 has a taken a different direction this year. The World Kidney Day joint steering committee has made a call to bridge the knowledge gap to improve kidney care.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is common and harmful, affecting one in 10 adults worldwide. CKD, as it is commonly known, needs not progress rapidly to STAGE 5. However, due to the knowledge gaps demonstrated at all levels of care, we often see patients needing dialysis earlier than they should.
This year we encourage early detection and prevention, which allows for better disease management and care, preventing morbidity and mortality.
Lesotho is no different from the rest of the world already reeling from the after effects of the Covid pandemic – CKD has an economic and financial burden. Early detection improves cost effectiveness and sustainability. There has been a steady incline in the number of patients seeking treatment in South Africa, which is alarming to say the least. It leaves one to wonder what the future holds for the less privileged who are unable to seek treatment beyond our borders.
Due to lack of practitioners in the field, Basotho are often left in the dark about initiatives to improve kidney health and their responsibilities to their health. In this case prevention is better than cure. Hypertension, Diabetes and HIV are known to be the leading causes of kidney disease in persons of colour. In this instance the best advice is to manage the co-morbidities to prevent damage to the kidneys.
Its not often that local GPs will request kidney screening tests, however that should be the norm. Patients that suffer from ailments such as hypertension, diabetes and HIV, should have kidney function tests included in their annual check ups. Referral to a nephrologist would follow if there is any damage to the kidneys, no matter how insignificant it may be.
This year let’s all be pioneers of kidney health. Let’s educate ourselves and be our own frontline workers in the fight against kidney disease. In the absence of proper resources in our country lets take charge.
Kidney health for all