Take Control of Your Kidney Health During March Health Awareness

By Dr. Barbara Entsuah.  MD MHSc 
Health & Fitness Take Control of Your Kidney Health During March Health Awareness
MAR 28, 2024 LISTEN

MARCH is designated Colorectal Cancer, Nutrition and Kidney Month. It is important to raise awareness of Kidney Health and Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), and for ALL to take control of their Kidney Health by knowing the associated risks and working with your Doctor to prevent or delay progression of kidney disease. In Ghana, the incidence of Kidney Disease is high, with 13 out of 100 people in 2022 reported to have had Kidney disease. The causes are mainly from Hypertension, Diabetes Mellitus, and Kidney damage from inflammation. In Ghana 50% of people with Hypertension have CKD, and 12-44% of Diabetics have CKD.

What are the Kidneys?
The kidneys are two half-moon shaped organs situated at the back of the abdomen on either side of your spine, just below the rib cage. They are very important organs involved in:

• Filtering blood to remove or keep certain substances

• Removing excess fluids, waste, and toxic substances from the blood

• Help in Red blood cell production, so severe kidney disease can lead to Anemia

• Help regulate blood pressure, red blood cells, and the amount of certain nutrients in the body, such as calcium and potassium.

• Help in the production of Vitamin D which is needed for strong bones and immunity

Given its importance, there is the need for each person to make sure their kidneys are healthy and if they do have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) to delay its progression. CKD is when the kidney is damaged and is not able to perform its work for at least 3 months. With CKD, Kidney function is diminished and there are parameters to indicate this state. Based on the kidney’s calculated filtration rate, CKD can be classified into 5 main stages and these help in treatment decisions. In Stage 1 rate of filtration is greater or equal to 90%. Stage 5 is known as End Stage Disease and this is when the filtration rate is down to 15%. At or below this advanced stage, treatments like dialysis (artificial filtration) or a kidney transplant (you receive a kidney from a living or deceased person) will be needed to prolong life and keep your body healthy. The kidney is also linked to function of other vital organs and so these organs may be affected if you have CKD, e.g., Heart, your Bones, Anemia and Blood Pressure.

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Risk Factors for CKD (conditions which increase your chances of getting CKD)

• Hypertension or taking medications for it

• Diabetes and Pre diabetes 1.3 million adults in Ghana have Type 2 Diabetes

• Heart Disease or Heart Failure
• Obesity
• Using unproven Herbal Preparations (Common practice in Ghana)

• Taking excess Brufen (motrin/advil), Naproxen or Diclonefac (used for pain & inflammation-referred to as NSAIDs)

• Inflammation or disease of the kidneys

• Genetics e.g., History of Sickle Cell Disease (1/3 of SCD patients develop CKD)

• Having family members with kidney disease

• Smoking (damages the blood vessels)
• Not being physically active or exercising

• Eating unhealthy foods

1.Take Blood Pressure medications as prescribed and keep it well controlled

2.Control your Blood Sugar if Diabetic. Ask your doctor for medicines which protect your kidneys, there are some which do this.

3.Get Blood Pressure and Blood sugar devices to check these numbers on your own.

4.Go for regular Labs/Urine/Bloodwork to make sure everything is well-controlled.

5.Eat healthy and see a dietitian if you have kidney disease to guide your food intake

6.Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy body weight

7.Keep your body well hydrated, and avoid taking NSAIDs (see above)

8.Keep regular appointments/reviews with your doctors

9.Avoid herbal preparations. They are also Medicines and most are not harmless.

10.Keep other medical conditions controlled
Above points will help protect your kidneys and slow the progression of CKD. Dialysis or surgery for kidney replacement are expensive, so Prevention is better than Cure.

PLEASE share with friends and family
Dr. Barbara Entsuah (Med) Family Medicine Specialist, Author, Health Educator,

Vice President and Medical Director, Gateway of Hope Inc. NGO.

#Loveyourbody# ❤️❤️❤️