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Kidney disease – Everything you need to know

Dr. Nishi Mathew, Consultant – Nephrologist, SUT Hospital, Pattom, Trivandrum

The kidneys play a key role in purifying the blood by expelling wastes from the body through urine. In addition, the kidneys control the amount of water and minerals in the body. They also help in maintaining bone health and regulation of blood cell count. Kidney disease if diagnosed at an early stage and with proper treatment; permanent kidney failure can be prevented.

Kidney Symptoms: –

1. Swelling – The kidneys control the amount of water in the body by expelling excess water. Therefore, kidney patients may experience water retention in the face, limbs, abdomen and lungs, bloating and shortness of breath.

2. Urinary abnormalities – Urinary incontinence and blood clots are symptoms of kidney disease. Excessive urination at night could also be a symptom of impaired kidney function.

3. Body aches – Changes in calcium, phosphorus, uric acid and vitamin D in kidney patients can cause pain in the bones, muscles and joints. Bone weakness and increased risk of fractures are also common in kidney patients

In addition to the above symptoms, kidney disease can also cause high blood pressure, anaemia, excessive fatigue, memory loss and loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and itching.

In more than half of the patients, the diagnosis is made after permanent renal failure, as there are no significant symptoms in the initial stage of the disease. Therefore, people with high risk of kidney disease, those with high blood pressure, those with hereditary kidney disease, those who are obese, smokers, alcoholics, those with congenital urinary tract disorders, those who continue to use painkillers, should do urine analysis and blood tests (even if there are no symptoms) so that early diagnosis and treatment is possible.

How is it diagnosed?

Kidney disease can be diagnosed by simple urine tests and blood tests (blood urea, creatinine). In some cases, an ultrasound scan and a kidney biopsy may be needed.

Treatments: –

Seventy percent of kidney diseases are part of lifestyle diseases. Therefore, kidney disease can be controlled with proper diet, lifestyle and medication. Kidney failure caused by glomerulo nephritis can be completely cured if it is detected at an early stage by tests such as kidney biopsy. In case of permanent renal failure, normal life can be maintained through dialysis and kidney transplant.