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Preface and Contents

Prevention of Kidney Diseases

Precautions for healthy person

Kidney diseases are silent killers. They may cause progressive loss of kidney function leading to kidney failure and ultimately requirement of dialysis or kidney transplant to sustain life. Because of the high cost and potential problems of lack of availability in developing countries, only 5 -10% of patients with kidney failure are fortunate enough to get definitive treatment options such as, dialysis and kidney transplantation, while the rest die without getting any definitive therapy. CKD is very common and has no cure, so prevention is the only option. Early detection and treatment can often keep CKD from getting worse, and can prevent or delay the need for definitive therapy.

How to prevent kidney diseases?

Never ignore your kidneys. Important aspects about care and prevention of kidney diseases are discussed in the following categories.

  1. Precautions for healthy individuals.
  2. Precautions for individuals with kidney disease.

Precautions for Healthy Person

Seven effective ways to keep the kidney healthy are:

1. Be fit and active
Regular aerobic exercise and daily physical activity maintains normal blood pressure and helps control blood sugar. Such physical activities cut the risk of diabetes and hypertension and thus reduce the risk of CKD.

2. Balanced diet
Eat a healthy diet, full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Decrease intake of refined foods, sugars, fats and meats in the diet. For those above 40 years of age, consuming less salt in the diet may help in the prevention of high blood pressure and kidney stones.

3. Keep your weight in check
Maintain your weight with a balance of healthy food and regular exercise. This can help in preventing diabetes, heart disease and other conditions associated with CKD.

4. Give up smoking and tobacco products
Smoking can lead to atherosclerosis, which reduces blood flow to the kidneys, thus decrease their ability to function at their best. There have also been studies that demonstrate that smoking leads to faster decline in kidney function in those with underlying kidney disease to begin with.

5. Beware of OTCs
Do not overuse over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers on a regular basis. Common drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen and Naproxen are known to cause kidney damage and subsequent failure particularly, if taken on a regular basis. Consult a doctor to find the best way to control your pain without putting your kidneys at risk.

6. Drink lots of water
Drinking sufficient water (about 3 liters per day) helps to dilute urine, eliminate all the toxic waste from the body and prevent kidney stones.

7. Annual kidney check-up
Kidney diseases are often silent diseases and do not produce any symptoms until they reach an advanced stage. The most powerful and effective but, sadly, underutilized method for early diagnosis and prevention of kidney disease is a regular kidney check-up. Annual kidney check-up is a must for high risk persons who suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity or have a history of CKD in the family. If you love your kidneys (and, more importantly, yourself), do not forget to get a regular kidney checkup after the age of 40. A simple method for early detection and diagnosis of kidney disease is at least an annual blood pressure measurement, urinalysis and a test to measure creatinine in blood.