This week (2-6 September 2015) marks Kidney Awareness Week in South Africa and highlights the need to have one’s kidney functions checked early before chronic kidney disease sets in.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) has been estimated to affect as much as 15% of the South African population. According to the National Kidney Foundation of South Africa, it also represents a growing healthcare problem with some 20 000 new patients requiring diagnosis and treatment every year.
CKD is a dangerous medical condition characterised by a gradual loss of kidney function over time that, if left untreated, can then lead to chronic renal failure (CRF). Once you have reached end-stage chronic renal failure you have two options – dialysis for the rest of your life, or a kidney transplant.
Kidneys are among our most vital organs as they filter toxins and produce essential chemicals in our bodies. When the kidneys stop functioning properly, our body becomes toxic and we cannot survive. The difficulty lies in the fact that CKD is an insidious disease – it often goes undetected as many people whose kidneys are dysfunctional do not develop symptoms until their kidneys are close to failing.
Early detection is crucial when managing Chronic Kidney Disease, so we support initiatives such as Kidney Awareness Week. We’re committed to caring for patients with acute and chronic kidney disease at the Urology Hospital in Hatfield Pretoria. With more than 20 urologists under one roof, it offers unparalleled expertise in urology using the latest in highly specialised technology as well as nursing staff specially trained in urology. The hospital specialises in the treatment of male, female and paediatric urological conditions, including prostate cancer, kidney stones, bladder control problems and pelvic floor. Other common procedures performed at the hospital include: circumcisions, vasectomies, prostatectomies, nephrectomies (removal of the kidney) and male infertility. The hospital maintains its association with the academic world to ensure ongoing research, medical education and training in the development of urology.
It is a real team effort.
It’s important to note that the two main causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. With the increased burden of lifestyle-induced diseases in South Africa, our doctors are fully aware of the causes of CKD. Patients tend to be satisfied with medicine compliance only, and fail to do the necessary GP checks, so an important aspect is routine follow-ups with GPs to ensure that kidney care is optimised and complications for diabetes and hypertension are well managed.
We encourage preventive behaviour through weight management, not smoking, keeping fit, watching sugar intake, monitoring blood pressure and eating a healthy and varied diet. Many people aren’t aware of the symptoms of kidney disease and early detection can circumvent the need for dialysis or a transplant if treated soon enough.
You are encouraged to visit a doctor if:
- You are more tired than usual;
- have trouble sleeping;
- experience dry and itchy skin,
- feel the need to urinate more often;
- see blood or foam in your urine;
- have persistent puffiness around the eyes;
- your ankles and feet are swollen;
- your appetite is poor, or
- if your muscles are continuously cramping.
For more information, go to www.nkf.org.za.