To maintain overall health and well-being, we must be cautious about all our body organs, especially the kidneys, which are fist-like organs found below the ribs and situated on both sides of the spine. They enable our body to filter extra fluids and wastes efficiently, thereby striking a healthy balance of water, salts, and minerals such as sodium, calcium and phosphorus in our blood.
Kidneys also help in controlling blood pressure and maintaining the health of bones. Unfortunately any minor imbalance in the functioning of kidneys usually goes undetected owing to lack of any major symptoms and may silently proceed to advanced kidney disease hence, it is thus important that one goes through regular lab tests and investigations.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Saurabh Pokhariyal, Co-Founder of VitusCare Dialysis Center, explained, “Regular kidney check-ups are essential for those who either have diabetes, cardiovascular issues, high blood pressure, obesity or a family history of kidney disease. By regularly testing kidney function, one can understand one’s kidney health and an early diagnosis of any kidney related issue can help in managing any future damage, better. The incidence of CKD in India is unclear due to the lack of accurate national data collection.”
He pointed at the few studies that have estimated that over 1 million new patients have been diagnosed with End-Stage Kidney Disease (ESKD) who need to either opt for dialysis therapy or undergo a kidney transplant. Moreover, nearly 0.2 million individuals are getting added to this pool every year owing to the increased incidence of lifestyle disorders such as diabetes and hyper-tension that are the major precursors to kidney disease.
According to Dr Saurabh Pokhariyal, “Thankfully, altering some lifestyle activities can also help delay kidney damage, especially if chronic kidney disease (CKD) is diagnosed in one of the early stages.” He shared some of the guidelines we should follow to slow down the progression of kidney diseases:
1. Opt for regular physical activity – A half-an-hour regular exercise is essential for a healthy body as aerobic exercise helps in maintaining optimal cardiovascular health and also helps to lower blood pressure and blood sugar which are the two main causes of kidney disease . Exercise routines such as brisk-walking, running and/or cycling can be beneficial for the health of the kidneys. One can opt for these activities depending upon the interest and as per recommendation and approval by the referring doctor.
2. Be careful with OTC supplements and medicine – Take medication only after the doctor’s recommendation. Taking painkillers regularly without consulting doctors over a long period may cause chronic kidney disease. Consider taking Over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers only in case the pain is unbearable. In case the pain in any of the parts is a recurring one, one must consult a general physician for further diagnosis.
3. Monitor your blood glucose level – If you have diabetes, controlling your blood sugar levels can help slow the progression of kidney disease. Speak to a nutritionist to learn more about the food items/dishes that can be consumed in case of diabetes or kidney disease. Follow the doctor’s instructions related to diet, insulin and other medications regularly.
4. Control your blood pressure – Keeping your blood pressure within a healthy range may help slow down the progression of kidney disease. Lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, meditating, eating less salt and alcohol, and quitting smoking can help lower your blood pressure. If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe blood pressure medication in addition to making lifestyle modifications.