Kidneys are vital too

Kidneys are vital too

They are two rarely-sung bean-shaped organs right at the end of the torso, but they do a remarkable ‘municipal’ job of keeping the human body clean and toxin-free. The kidneys, unlike the heart or brain, are hardly thought of, except when they snap ties with the body. When they do so, everything goes into a tailspin.

But kidneys do get a sort of ‘birthday’ on the second Thursday of March. No         confetti or blowing of candles. The kidneys, usually very shy of publicity, always mean business. World Kidney Day was observed this week on March 13, globally, to raise the awareness about kidneys and give them the importance they deserve.

The human heart may be the darling of the human body, but the kidneys do no less a job, albeit a thankless one. Round the clock they flush out all unwanted and harmful chemicals through the urine. By removing the waste and extra water in the body, the kidneys control your body’s chemical balance, the blood pressure, keep bones healthy and help in making vital red blood cells.

But the kidneys are subject to wear and tear as you age. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a progressive loss of kidney function over a period of months to years. About 1 in 10 people have some degree of CKD. Kidney disease can affect people of all ages and races. The older you get the more likely you are to have some degree of kidney disease. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common causes of CKD in adults.

Unfortunately, most people will have no symptoms until CKD is advanced. You can lose up to 90 percent of kidney function before experiencing any symptoms. Signs of advanced CKD include swelling in the legs, fatigue and difficulty concentrating, decreased appetite, foamy urine, increased frequency of urination at night and difficulty in breathing.

People at high risk of acquiring CKD include diabetics, those with high blood pressures, people who are obese and the ones who have a family history of CKD. But irrespective of the age, if diagnosed early, simple and low-cost treatments can slow the progression of kidney disease. It can prevent complications that are caused by CKD, and improve the quality of life and longevity.

You get your heart checked every year. It is time to get your kidneys checked, too, periodically. CKD is common and it is harmful; that is the bad news. The good news is that it is treatable if diagnosed early. You could keep kidney diseases at bay by going in for certain regular and simple check-ups.

Here are some simple tests that help detect if you are at high risk for CKD:A urine test to check if there is any protein or albumin in the urineA blood test to measure the level of creatinine in your blood, which will indicate your kidneys’ functionality A blood pressure check-up

Remember to follow these golden rules for healthy kidneys:Keep fit and activeControl your blood sugar levelMonitor and control your blood      pressureMaintain healthy eating habits and reduce your salt intakeKeep your body weight in checkStay hydrated. Drink sufficient amount of waterDon’t take over-the-counter pills on a regular basis, particularly pain killersTake care of your kidneys. Consult your doctor. Spread the word. Your kidneys are important, too.

(The writer is a consultant and head of nephrology at Sakra World Hospital, Bangalore)

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