World Kidney Day 2019: Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere
by Gamal FitzPatrick, M.D.
World Kidney Day is recognized annually on March 14 and is celebrated internationally with events aimed at public education. The theme for this year is “Kidney Health for Everyone, Everywhere”. As a medical care provider, I hope to help readers to better understand kidney disease and how it may affect them or their loved ones.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is the leading cause of kidney failure worldwide. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a condition which leads to a decrease in kidney function over a long period of time. The average person has a pair of kidneys which produce urine, filter harmful waste from our bloodstream, control blood pressure and keep our bones healthy. Initially, most patients with CKD do not feel sick at all.
Late symptoms of kidney damage include vomiting, constantly itchy dry skin, fatigue and swelling of the feet and legs. It can affect young people but mostly affects people over the age of 65. There are no accessible statistics on CKD in the Vincentian population. However, many Vincentians are at risk due to high population rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and relatives with kidney disease.
The main treatments for late-stage CKD are kidney transplant and dialysis. Dialysis is the only available treatment in SVG. Due to the high cost of dialysis, our focus should be on detecting the illness early and treating it before dialysis becomes necessary. Early detection can be done with a yearly physical examination and an affordable blood test that measures a kidney function indicator called Creatinine.
Also, a urine test can be done to look for the presence of protein in the urine. If caught early, a healthy diet and exercise along with daily medication can prevent CKD from becoming a life-threatening illness. Being proactive about health and wellness can have a huge impact overall. Be sure to ask your doctor or clinic about testing for your kidneys at your next visit. As the old saying goes an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.