Celebrated on the second Thursday in March, the mission of World Kidney Day is to raise awareness of the importance of our kidneys to our overall health and to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide.
- The leading causes of kidney failure, otherwise known as End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) are diabetes and high blood pressure.
- About 1 in 10 people have some degree of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). It can develop at any age and various conditions can lead to CKD. It however becomes more common with increasing age. After the age of 40, kidney filtration begins to fall by approximately 1% per year. On top of the natural aging of the kidneys, many conditions which damage the kidneys are more common in older people including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
- There is no cure for chronic kidney disease, although treatment can slow or halt the progression of the disease and can prevent other serious conditions developing.
- The main treatments are a proper diet and medications, and for those who reach ESRD, long term dialysis treatment or kidney transplantation.
- Currently in New York State 8,484 people are waiting for a life saving kidney transplant (UNOS.org retrieved March 9,2015).
- Kidney transplantation is considered the best treatment for many people with severe CKD because quality of life and survival are often better than in people who use dialysis.
- There is a shortage of organs available for donation. Many people who are candidates for kidney transplantation are put on a transplant waiting list and require dialysis until an organ is available. In New York State, 1,304 people have been on the kidney transplant waiting list for more than five years (UNOS.org retrieved March 9,2015).
- A kidney can come from a living relative, a living unrelated person, or from a person who has died (deceased or cadaver donor); only one kidney is required to survive.
- Overall, transplant success rates are very good. Transplants from deceased donors have an 85 to 90% success rate for the first year. That means that after one year, 85 to 90 out of every 100 transplanted kidneys are still functioning. Live donor transplants have a 90 to 95% success rate. Long-term success is good for people of all ages.
- After only two years, the cumulative cost of dialysis surpasses the costs associated with transplantation. Additionally, kidney transplantation is associated with lower mortality and improved quality of life compared with chronic dialysis treatment.
Kidney diseases are silent killers, which will largely affect your quality of life. There are however several easy ways to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease.
Keeping fit helps to reduce your blood pressure and therefore reduces the risk of Chronic Kidney Disease.
The concept "on the move for kidney health" is a worldwide collective march involving the public, celebrities and professionals moving across a public area by walking, running and cycling. Why not join them – by whatever means you prefer! Check out the events section of the WKD website for more information.
Keep regular control of your blood sugar level
About half of people who have diabetes develop kidney damage, so it is important for people with diabetes to have regular tests to check their kidney functions.
Kidney damage from diabetes can be reduced or prevented if detected early. It is important to keep control of blood sugar levels with the help of doctors or pharmacists, who are always happy to help.
Monitor your blood pressure
Although many people may be aware that high blood pressure can lead to a stroke or heart attack, few know that it is also the most common cause of kidney damage.
The normal blood pressure level is 120/80. Between this level and 139/89, you are considered prehypertensive and should adopt lifestyle and dietary changes. At 140/90 and above, you should discuss the risks with your doctor and montior your blood pressure level regularly. High blood pressure is especially likely to cause kidney damage when associated with other factors like diabetes, high cholesterol and Cardio- Vascular Diseases.
Eat healthy and keep your weight in check
This can help prevent diabetes, heart disease and other conditions associated with Chronic Kidney Disease.
Reduce your salt intake.
The recommended sodium intake is 5-6 grams of salt per day (around a teaspoon). In order to reduce your salt intake, try and limit the amount of processed and restaurant food and do not add salt to food. It will be easier to control your intake if you prepare the food yourself with fresh ingredients. For more information on nutrition and kidney friendly cooking, visit our nutrition page
Maintain a healthy fluid intake
Although clinical studies have not reached an agreement on the ideal quantity of water and other fluids we should consume daily to maintain good health, traditional wisdom has long suggested drinking 1.5 to 2 litres (3 to 4 pints) of water per day.
Consuming plenty of fluid helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins from the body which, in turn, results in a "significantly lower risk" of developing chronic kidney disease, according to researchers in Australia and Canada. The findings, the researchers said, do not advocate "aggressive fluid loading", which can cause side effects, but they do provide evidence that moderately increased water intake, around two litres daily, may reduce the risk of decline in kidney function. It's important to keep in mind that the right level of fluid intake for any individual depends on many factors including gender, exercise, climate, health conditions, pregnancy and breast feeding. In addition, people who have already had a kidney stone are advised to drink 2 to 3 litres of water daily to lessen the risk of forming a new stone.
Do not smoke
Smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. When less blood reaches the kidneys, it impairs their ability to function properly. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by about 50 percent.
Do not take over-the-counter pills on a regular basis
Common drugs such non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen are known to cause kidney damage and disease if taken regularly.
Such medications probably do not pose significant danger if your kidneys are relatively healthy and you use them for emergencies only, but if you are dealing with chronic pain, such as arthritis or back pain, work with your doctor to find a way to control your pain without putting your kidneys at risk.
Get your kidney function checked if you have one or more of the 'high risk' factors:
- you have diabetes
- you have hypertension
- you are obese
- one of your parents or other family members suffers from kidney disease
- you are of African, Asian, or Aboriginal origin