I first met 28 year old Nana Kwame 3 years ago while on duty at the casualty ward. He was so ill, he could neither sit unsupported nor complete his sentences in one breath. Nana, a national service personnel, had been well until 3 months prior to his presentation when he noticed he had episodes of severe headaches. He reported to a hospital where he was diagnosed of high blood pressure. In the subsequent days, several tests were done which revealed that he had end stage kidney disease! 🤦🏾♀️His world was shattered when he was told the definitive treatment was a kidney transplant.
In the absence of that, he was told he would need to be on lifelong dialysis. He was devastated!!! How could this happen to him? He was just 28 years old😥. He thought he had his whole life before him. OMG!!
Upon consultation with close friends and family, he decided to seek treatment at a potent herbal center in the country. A month into treatment, his condition had so worsened, the herbalist advised he return to the Hospital and that’s how I met him😱. Sadly Nana died exactly a week later even as his friends were sourcing funds to start dialysis😔.
Sadly, many young lives are lost daily due to complications of kidney diseases. This should not be the case. Early detection can and does saves lives!
What are kidney diseases?
These are diseases or injuries that affect the kidneys (The kidneys are bean-shaped, brownish organs located towards the back of the abdomen).
Types of kidney diseases
There are two main types, acute and chronic kidney diseases. Acute kidney diseases are any form of injury to the kidneys that last less than three months. These can be from trauma, infections, inflammations, massive loss of water (e.g in Cholera) or blood (e.g. bleeding during and after childbirth or bleeding after a car accident).
Chronic kidney diseases (CKD) tend to last for more than 3 months and may result from improper management of acute kidney diseases or from complications of certain diseases.
For today’s blog post, I will concentrate on chronic kidney diseases.
Common causes of CKD
CKD commonly results from complications from chronic diseases such as; Diabetes, Hypertension, Sickle cell Disease. It may also be due to chronic use or abuse of both prescription and non-prescription medicines such as NSAIDs, (eg: brufen, Diclo).
Topical and oral use of herbal medicines has also been associated with CKD especially in our setting, where safety profiles of many of these herbal preparations are not fully known. Other causes include infections such as HIV, cervical and prostate cancers.
How do chronic diseases result in CKD
In Chronic diseases such as Diabetes, Hypertension there is excess circulating blood sugar and high blood pressure respectively. These cause irritation and destruction of blood vessels in the kidneys resulting in poor blood flow to the kidneys. With sickle cell disease, the blockage of tiny blood vessels in the kidneys can result in kidney damage over time.
CKD usually progresses over months to years, thus for many years one can have the condition and yet not show any symptoms. This is why it is important to have regular checkups.
The kidneys play a role in blood production and when it is damaged one may have low blood levels (anaemia) and this can manifest as a frequent feeling of tiredness after minimal activity and dizziness.
3. Face and feet swelling
The main organ for water and salt balance is the kidney. With damage to it, this action is impaired. Thus, the body tends to retain water and salt leading to body swelling which usually starts with facial swelling that tends to appear in the mornings and disappears during the day. The feet swelling would typically be absent in the mornings and swells up gradually during the day.
4. Bloody or Frothy (foamy urine)
normal urine is either clear or light straw without blood or proteins. With the destruction of the blood vessels, blood and proteins escape into urine thus leading to bloody and or very foamy urine.
5.Frequent urination at night
Again, in CKD, the kidneys are unable to concentrate urine leading to increased loss of water and salts, hence, frequent urination. This is usually worse at night.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, I encourage you to seek medical help urgently. Don’t wait until it’s too late.🥴
Next week, we will look at preventive measures.🧐
Until I come your way again soon, be sensitive to your body and don’t ignore subtle messages sent by the body.😎 Early detection saves lives!💯