Healthy Families

The ‘Beans’ Above My Waist

March 9, 2020


Our bodies are wonderfully intricate and the mere thought of how all systems work is a mystery.  In line with this, one such system that is of key importance is the renal system, with the kidneys being of high significance.  Whatever comes in must come out and it is the primary role of the kidneys to ensure this happens.

These bean-shaped organs work exemplary well as a duo to facilitate the waste removal process in the form of urine. Our kidneys filter blood before sending it back to the heart. They create hormones that help produce blood cells, promote bone health and regulate blood pressure.  From the roles played by the kidneys, it is evident that their role cannot be assumed and in case they are not functioning as expected, then the client can be categorized as having kidney disease.

Kidney disease can either be acute or chronic.  Acute kidney disease occurs when the kidneys suddenly fail in removing waste products from the blood while chronic kidney disease occurs over a prolonged period.  Once the kidneys are unable to perform as expected, the waste products and fluids accumulate and the other body systems get affected leading to further complications.

 While reading through this we are sure the questions in mind are ‘what are the predisposing factors?’ and ‘is kidney disease such a big deal?’ A number of illnesses can cause permanent damage to the kidneys, but the two main conditions are diabetes and hypertension.   Additionally, other risk factors include: old age, genes, alcohol abuse, tobacco abuse and, obesity. 

Kidney disease is a big deal especially putting into consideration the fatalities that are recorded.  According to the Business Daily report on 07th March 2018, about 1 in every 10 persons have some form of kidney disease and about 4 million Kenyans are affected with a significant proportion of this population progressing to kidney failure.   It was further estimated that 4.8 million Kenyans will be suffering from kidney disease by 2030.  These statistics should nudge us to be concerned about our health status more so our weight, our blood sugar level management and blood pressure.

One intervention in curbing the disease is understanding symptoms that occur at each stage.  Symptoms presented in acute kidney disease are; decreased urine output, fluid retention, shortness of breath, fatigue, confusion and, nausea.  If not well managed and the disease progresses to the chronic stage, the symptoms recorded are anaemia, blood in urine, dark urine, decreased mental alertness, edema, itchy skin, loss of appetite, muscle cramps, proteinuria, a sudden change in weight, unexplained headaches and, pain on the side.  In rare cases, uremic frosting on the face can occur.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to preventing the occurrence of the disease.  Also, if one is hypertensive or diabetic, it is necessary to adhere to the doctor’s or dietitian’s advice.  If kidney disease has been recorded in your family, it is important to take extreme caution in your lifestyle as well as regular kidney functionality tests.  For those with the disease, treatment is highly dependant on the stage.  Treatment can range from medication, dialysis all through to kidney transplant.

The cost of treatment is quite high but the relief is that the dialysis cost is provided by our government through the NHIF.  Is the whole cost covered? No. In addition to that intervention, there has been an improvement in the number of dialysis centres making the service available for the majority of Kenyans.  However, for kidney transplant patients, the cost still remains to be quite high for some.  Though the procedure can be done locally, majority still prefer to have this process done in India.  However, you see it, the cost of treatment is high and cannot be afforded by all. Consequently, better to prevent than treat.  For clients with kidney disease, your dietitian should be among your emergency contacts and stick to the meal plan.

From us here at Winnie’s Pure Health, our advice to you is to get your kidneys checked on this Kidney Health Month.  Remember, a healthy you requires healthy and functional kidneys.