Says Nephrologist and Renal Specialist Ratan Jha as he explains about what leads to kidney diseases, how can we prevent them and what the Government is doing to offer Renal transplant treatment to the poor
1. There has been a rise in the kidney diseases. Why?
In the recent times, there has been a change in the lifestyle and longevity.The changing lifestyle has led to the rise of several diseases. Diabetes and Hypertension are amongst them, and they are prime reasons for the increased number of kidney problems.
It has been reported that roughly 20 per cent of the adult population in the urban landscape suffers from some form of kidney problem. 1 out of 5 complains of Diabetes or Hypertension. This was not the case 30 years ago. Such health issues are a result of the change in our lifestyle and ageing population.
2. What are the symptoms of kidney diseases?
The symptoms are quite vague. Often, these symptoms are misdiagnosed based on the patient’s perception. If a person is suffering from breathing problems, he visits a Cardiologist or a Chest Specialist. But it could be a kidney issue because of associated low hemoglobin and Hypertension. Which is why symptoms are not a way to make diagnosis. However, some symptoms that could suggest that there may be a kidney problem are swelling of legs, getting up more frequently in the night, itching, loss of appetite, feeling unwell,high blood pressure or poor growth in a child.When it comes to kidney problem, you suspect the disease based on the risk factor.
The risk factors for kidney problems are Diabetes, Hypertension, old age, pain killer drug misuse, and newer fancy drugs to lose weight or cure the chronic problems . If these factors are present and there are above mentioned symptoms, one should get oneself examined.
3. What leads to kidney diseases?
In India, 50 per cent of the kidney diseases are contributed by Diabetes and Hypertension. Other reasons could be,genetic inheritance, drug misuse, and substance abuse. There are cases when it’s hard to find out the cause. It may be because of environmental factors like heat, pesticides and pollutants, contaminated food etc. These lead to unknown form of kidney diseases.
4. What are the measures one can take to keep one’s kidneys healthy?
Follow common sense rules. Take enough water every day, say roughly 3 liters to produce 2 liters of urine. The urine should be white in color. That is the sign that one is consuming the right quantity of water.
Eat enough fruits and vegetables. Limit the salt intake. Similarly, avoid eating pickles, papads and chutneys on a daily basis. Such Indian food items have abundance of salt quantity. Too much salt may be poisonous to the body.
Along with the right quantity of food and water, one should indulge in some form of exercise every day to avoid Obesity. Obesity can lead to kidney problems.
Lastly, avoid consuming pain killers very often or other forms of drugs without doctor’s advice.
If one is a diabetes kidney patient, avoid eating non-vegetarian food and dry fruits that contain a high amount of potassium. Limit your water intake. if there is swelling of the legs, limit water consumption to 1 litre a day. Otherwise, 2 to 3litres per day is good.
5. What are the options for curing kidney diseases?
If the kidney function has not reduced to 10 per cent, then drugs can be used to keep the body running. If it is below 10 per cent, then dialysis or transplant, which are the last stage treatments, are to be carried out.
The thing with kidney disease is that once it starts, it only worsens, despite the best treatment, as time progresses. The progression can be slowed down by controlling blood pressure and by appropriate management of risk factors.
6. What are the criteria for the transplant to be conducted?
Any patient who is fit and is requiring chronic dialysis could go for kidney transplant. The body should be able to withstand the surgery. If the patient’s’ life expectancy is less than 5 years, transplant is not recommended.
7. Are there any government regulations for the transplant to be conducted?
A patient can avail of the opportunity only when his turn comes. If one is suffering from severe kidney disease that has reached an extreme or last stage, then one will need to visit a center for dialysis treatment. Find out if the center is registered for Cadaver transplantation. Once the patient is registered with the center, the message goes to the nodal agency of one’s kidney requirement. The kidney will be assignedin terms of seniority (the one who got on dialysis first) and fitness.
8. What is the average cost of Renal transplant?
The cost varies. However, the average price range would be 3 lakh in a government hospital to 6 lakh in a private institution, for one kidney.
In Telangana, the Government has initiated Jeevandan program which offers Renal transplant and drugs for free of cost for a lifetime.
9. What is the percentage of kidney patients in India that undergoes Renal transplant?
Every year, 1.5 to 2 lakh kidney patients get added to national pool. Out of this number, only 1 per cent manages to undergo transplantation owing to high cost and logistics involved. 10 per cent opt for dialysis treatment. And 90 per cent of the patients suffer for being unable to afford the treatment.
10. What are the latest scientific / technical advancements in the field of Nephrology?
There has been an advancement inthe understanding of inner Biololgy of transplantation. Experts can now detect rejection (of the kidney by the body) at an early stage of transplantation. We now have drugs that are precise which can treat as well as prevent rejection of the kidney and avoid infection.