Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) has become a serious concern in worldwide public health. Also known as nephropathy or renal disease, it is a long-term condition that may eventually lead to kidney failure and premature death. It is one of the fastest growing illnesses in the world. World Kidney Day (WKD) will be celebrated on March 8, 2018, coinciding with International Women’s Day. To raise awareness among women the theme for WKD is ‘Kidneys & Women’s Health: Include, Value, Empower’. And the commemoration of World Kidney Day and the International Women’s Day on the same day gives us the opportunity to shed light on importance of women’s physical well-being especially their kidney health.
According to Worldkidneyday.org, approximately 195 million women suffer from CKD. It is currently the 8th leading cause of death in women. Below are the causes and ways to prevent Chronic Kidney Disease in women.
Causes of CKD
UTIs: Women are biologically more prone to renal diseases. Women have shorter urinary tract passage and are more vulnerable to urinary tract infections (UTIs). UTIs can affect the kidneys, bladder and tubes that run between them. According to experts, the damage is greater in younger girls who are diagnosed with UTIs. Over time, their kidney gets scarred which may lead to renal failure later in life.
Diabetes & High Blood Pressure: High blood sugar levels caused by diabetes damage blood vessels in the kidneys. If the blood sugar levels remain constantly high over years, the damage gradually reduces the function of the kidneys. Also, uncontrolled high blood pressure impairs blood vessels which can affect the kidneys. Pressure also tends to rise with chronic kidney disease.
Others: CKD can be caused due to Glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the kidney’s filtering units), polycystic kidney disease, prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract from conditions such as enlarged prostate, kidney stones, cancers, among many other infections.
Steps to prevent the risk of CKD
Lifestyle changes: Keep your blood pressure and sugar levels in control. Maintain a healthy weight and incorporate exercise in your routine. Reduce the intake of salt and packaged food items that are high in sodium. Do not smoke or chew tobacco.
Exercise caution with pain medications: Many over-the-counter medications including pain medications are filtered by the kidneys. Your kidneys break down and remove these medications from the body. Always read labels and weigh the pros and cons of taking a medication. Avoid excessive use of medication that can harm the kidneys such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
Get tested: If you think you are at a risk of kidney disease, do not procrastinate in getting tested. There is a simple test to check for kidney disease. A urine test for albumin, a type of protein. Protein in the urine is one of the earliest signs of kidney damage. When there is too much protein, it means that the kidneys’ filters have been damaged and are starting to leak protein.
Kidney disease can affect anybody. You can reduce your chances of kidney disease by making healthier choices in life. Women, you are important. Now is the time to prioritise your health for the sake of yourself and your loved ones. This International Women’s Day and World Kidney Day, let’s pledge to engage in practicing a healthy lifestyle and spread the awareness among our fellow ladies.