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Today, the World Kidney Day is observed all over. It is aimed at creating and increasing awareness of the importance of our kidneys.
This year, the theme of the World Kidney Day is 'Kidneys And Women's Health'. This mainly aims at focusing on the rise of chronic kidney problems in women. Chronic kidney problem is a worldwide problem that affects approximately 195 million women worldwide. It is currently the 8th leading cause of death in women, with 600,000 deaths noted each year.
Throwing a light on this issue, we interviewed Dr. Prashant C. Dheerendra, a Chief Nephrologist at Dharma Kidney Care, Bangalore. He is trained in Medicine and Nephrology from the prestigious PGIMER, Chandigarh. He is also recognised as a Fellow of the International Society of Nephrology, Brussels. He is passionate about educating the public on the topic of prevention and treatment of kidney failure.
Excerpts from the interview are as below:
Neha: Why is there an increased risk of chronic kidney failure in women in India?
Dr. Prashant: The most important risk factors for chronic kidney failure, like diabetes and high blood pressure, are increasing among the women. Also, added is the fact that since women take so much of the responsibilities on their shoulders, their own health takes a back seat.
Neha: What are the causes of chronic kidney failure?
Dr. Prashant: The main causes are still long-standing diabetes and high blood pressure. Inflammation of the kidneys ("nephritis"), severe kidney infections, lupus (especially in women), unsupervised medication intake are a few other causes. Surprisingly, in quite a sizeable number of people, the exact cause cannot be pinpointed.
Neha: Does hypertension, diabetes or other disorders worsen a kidney failure?
Dr. Prashant: Definitely! Most people with kidney failure have more than one risk factors. Especially diabetes and high blood pressure often occur together and can cause kidney failure over the years.
Neha: What is the treatment required for kidney failure?
Dr. Prashant: A stitch in time saves nine! The best and most effective treatment is prevention. People with risk factors should get themselves tested regularly once a year. Others with initial and middle stages of the disease can be treated with diet and medicines. Only those with more than 85%-90% of kidney damage will need dialysis and/or kidney transplantation.
Neha: For chronic kidney failure, does a patient require dialysis? If yes, what type of dialysis would you recommend?
Dr. Prashant: Only people with severe kidney failure need dialysis. There are two types of dialysis : hemodialysis ("blood" dialysis) and peritoneal dialysis ("water" dialysis or "home" dialysis). The exact choice depends on many factors in a given patient. Most patients in India opt for hemodialysis.
Neha: What are the dietary changes needed to be made during the treatment or recovery phase?
Dr. Prashant: Dietary changes depend on the stage of kidney failure and overall health of the patient. Giving a blanket recommendation won't be proper.
As an example, I generally see people with all stages of kidney failure heavily restricting protein in their diet after reading some articles online. But people on dialysis actually require a high protein diet to maintain their health. Hence, they end up harming themselves by following a diet that is not tailored to them.
People with kidney failure should be acutely aware that each of them needs a specific diet plan and should get one from their doctor/dietician.
Neha: Does a patient need to make any other lifestyle changes?
Dr. Prashant: More than lifestyle changes, mindset changes are important. Understanding the risk factors and always having a preventive mindset is crucial. If diagnosed with chronic kidney failure, understanding that there is no permanent cure, but that it can be managed effectively, is very important.
There is a lot of wrong information and unscientific treatments on kidney failure that are always available. Falling for them could prove very injurious to one's health. Depend only on your doctor/nephrologist for treatment advice and avoid taking advice from everyone else who offers it.
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