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Chronic Kidney Disease: Expert Explains The Importance Of Timely Treatment And Prevention

Maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active, avoiding smoking, and limiting alcohol intake can help boost kidney health.

Chronic Kidney Disease: Expert Explains The Importance Of Timely Treatment And Prevention

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) can cause kidneys to fail if left untreated

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a progressive health condition that can cause kidneys to fail if left untreated. CKD affects the kidneys' ability to filter waste and excess fluids from the blood. In the early stages, there may not be any noticeable symptoms, but as the condition progresses, fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, and swollen ankles may start to appear. Risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, and a family history of kidney disease. Additionally, certain medications, infections, and autoimmune disorders are also contributing factors in increasing the risk of kidney disease.

CKD is closely linked to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and hypertension and exacerbates these underlying conditions leading to a higher risk of complications like cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Data from the nationally representative mortality survey of India in the Million Death Study showed that the burden of CKD in India is significant with the highest kidney-related deaths occurring in the 45-69 age group. Approximately 11.5 people in the country are suffering from chronic kidney disease highlighting the urgent need for effective CKD management and early detection programs in India.

Factors such as socioeconomic status, geographic location, and lack of awareness and education about kidney disease can create disparities and inequities in accessing care and treatment. The cost of CKD treatment is high, making it financially challenging for patients and their families, particularly those from low-income groups. The economic impact of CKD is substantial, affecting both patients and the economy at large. Furthermore, with the situation expected to worsen due to the prevalence of the disease, the loss of productivity due to more patients suffering through CKD can also significantly strain the economy.

To address the burden of CKD in India, it is imperative to improve access to healthcare services and medications, increase kidney disease prevention and treatment programs, and raise public awareness via mass education programs and campaigns. Screening programs for individuals at high risk of CKD, such as those with diabetes and hypertension, can also help detect the disease at an early stage, ensuring timely treatment and management of the disease, thus lowering the chances of further complications.

While the government and the private sector work in unison to better the health outcomes of the masses, self-care and lifestyle changes by patients are equally important in the management of CKD. Patients can make positive changes to their daily routines by maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active, avoiding smoking, and limiting alcohol intake. These changes can help control blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, which are major risk factors for CKD. Patients must be cautious about the medications they take, and adhere to the medication prescribed by their healthcare professionals. Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider can also aid patients track their progress and adjust their treatment plan when required. Additionally, patients must adopt a kidney-friendly diet, which involves reducing the intake of sodium, phosphorus, and potassium-rich foods. These lifestyle changes can greatly improve the quality of life of patients with CKD and reduce the burden of the disease.

In summary, CKD is a serious public health issue in India, and addressing it requires a comprehensive approach. Impetus on awareness, early detection, improved access to healthcare, and research and innovation can help reduce the burden of CKD on patients, their families, and society. The government, healthcare providers, and academia must work together to prevent, detect, and manage CKD to improve the health outcomes of patients.

(Dr. Raj Kumar Sharma is a Professor and Head of Department of Nephrology, Medanta, Lucknow)

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