Nearly 20 people in every 100 Indians are expected to have some form of renal disease. The lack of accurate data collection makes it harder to estimate an accurate number, but there is no doubt that the rate of renal diseases is growing in India.
There are several reasons for the growth of kidney diseases in the country. Diabetes and hypertension are the two most common causes of kidney disease and both the conditions are on the rise as lifestyles undergo a change. Other conditions like urinary tract infections, autoimmune conditions and rheumatoid arthritis also result in kidney damage.
Kidney diseases are often referred to as the ‘Silent Killers’ since the person afflicted might not be able to realise the damage done till it gets serious.
Kidneys are responsible for filtering the blood from waste products like urea. A failing kidney results in the buildup of toxins in the body, which can damage other organs and result in other severe issues. When ignored over a prolonged period of time, it develops into a chronic kidney disease, which doctors normally refer to as Diabetic Nephropathy.
Hence, it is critical to understand the warning signs and consult a doctor. Here are 5 early warning signs that may indicate trouble to the kidneys and should not be ignored:
- Puffiness around the eyes: If one notices puffiness around the eyes in the morning, it can be a sign of concern. While there could be several reasons for puffy eyes, a prolonged state can indicate a serious kidney disease.
Puffiness around the eyes can occur when the kidneys leak a large amount of protein in the urine rather than storing it in our body. Over the time it develops into a condition known as Periorbital Edema, which causes swelling around the eyes due to the accumulation of fluid in the cells or the tissues.
- High Blood Pressure or Hypertension: High Blood Pressure and damaged kidneys form a vicious cycle. Hypertension can cause kidney damage and kidney damage can worsen the blood pressure.
The nephrons in the kidney are supplied with a vast and dense network of blood vessels, which handle high volumes of blood flowing through them. High blood pressure can cause these blood vessels to weaken or harden over time, limiting the blood supply to the kidney tissue. This results in the kidneys malfunctioning, or not filtering the required toxins properly.
On the other hand, kidneys produce a hormone called aldosterone that helps regulate blood pressure. Damaged kidneys are unable to produce the required amount of hormones, resulting in hypertension.
Keep a check on your blood pressure with regular tests. Maintaining BP is also critical for good kidney health.
- Blood in the urine: Kidneys in a healthy state tend to filter the waste from the blood and produce urine. However, when the normal functioning of the kidneys is affected, they start to leak blood in the urine. This condition can be an early signal to developing kidney stones or tumors. Alongside, urine tests are performed to keep the abnormalities in check, a trace of one type of protein called albumin if found, can indicate kidney damage. Therefore, occasional urine tests need to be done and checked by a medical expert.
- Dry or Itchy Skin: Healthy kidneys work to remove the excess toxins or waste from our body and maintain the necessary nutrients in the right amount to keep the body fit. Dry and itchy skin can be a possible reason for an advanced kidney disease when the kidneys fail to maintain the minerals in our body. Such a condition develops when the toxins accumulate in our body leading to dry, itchy and foul-smelling skin.
- Swelling in the ankle, feet and legs: Swelling around the extremities is one of the early signs of developing a serious kidney disease. This happens due to the improper functioning of the kidneys leading to sodium retention in the body. In this case, consultation with a nephrologist is a must followed by a routine check-up.