CINCINNATI—Many people don’t give their kidneys enough serious thought, according to Prabir Roy-Chaudhury, nephrologist at UC.
A decrease in healthy eating and regular exercise has spurred an increase in hypertension and diabetes—two major causes of chronic kidney disease.
And the problem is only getting worse.
The National Kidney Foundation estimates that 20 million Americans currently have chronic kidney disease, and another 20 million are at increased risk of developing this problem.
“It’s been estimated that by the year 2010, about 600,000 people in the United States will have end-stage renal disease and will require dialysis or kidney transplantation,” Roy-Chaudhury said.
Chronic kidney disease is damage to your kidney or the presence of conditions that can eventually cause kidney damage. Although anyone can get chronic kidney disease at any age, the main causes are diabetes and high blood pressure.
Chronic kidney disease has few noticeable symptoms and may go undetected until dialysis or transplantation is the only option.
But there are ways of prevention, Roy-Chaudhury said, and it starts with taking care of yourself.
“Early diagnosis and prevention are better than a cure,” he said. “It’s a building block. If you don’t take care of one aspect of your health, it will deteriorate in other ways.”
He said the most common cause of end-stage kidney disease in the world is diabetes, more specifically type-2 diabetes, and the numbers continue to rise.
“In addition, people with high blood pressure, particularly black males, have a higher risk of developing kidney damage,” he said. “The risk for blacks is about four times greater than in the white population.”
Roy-Chaudhury said patients at risk should be screened regularly to make sure their urine doesn’t contain high levels of blood or protein—a warning sign of early kidney damage.
He added that investigating a family’s history not only for kidney disease but also for hypertension and diabetes is important.
“If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, make sure you receive proper treatment,” he said.
Although symptoms are often subtle, if you experience any of the following, you could be suffering from kidney disease:
- Changes in urination
- Skin rash
- Metallic taste in mouth
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling cold
- Dizziness/trouble concentrating
- Leg or flank pain
“Even if kidney damage is present, there are medications that can stop it before it spreads further,” Roy-Chaudhury said. “Above all, early diagnosis, appropriate treatment and follow-up are the keys to preventing and controlling kidney disease.”
For more information on risks and prevention of kidney disease, visit the Kidney Foundation of Greater Cincinnati website.