Kidneys can be a ‘silent killer’ because the kidney disease usually remains silent for longer period of time but regular and routine investigations can detect the kidney disease well in time and can be managed before hampering the health of the patient. People who have the maximum chances of contracting kidney disease are diabetics, people who were born with low birth weight, those having cardiovascular issues, high blood pressure and obesity or those with a family history of kidney disease and these people should get their kidney tested regularly as they might be at risk.
Kidneys play a vital role in filtering out waste and extra fluid from the body and they also help to control body chemistry by regulating the amount of salt, water and other chemicals in the body where one can suffer from chronic kidney disease if the kidney fails to function at its best. It is a known fact that kidneys filter waste products, excess water and other impurities from the blood via urine and not only this, kidneys are even responsible for regulating pH, salt and potassium levels in the body and activating vitamin D for maintaining good bone health and regulating muscle function but there is still a lack of awareness regarding kidney disease and that is why a large number of people require dialysis.
Most symptoms associated with failing kidneys are quite vague like weakness, loss of appetite and in fact, in most cases patients already have end stage renal failure at the first presentation to a doctor. Clinical features like swelling of lower limb, froth in urine, progressive loss of appetite, are often ignored by the patient but if someone is experiencing such issues then a doctor’s consult is must.
Moreover, those having end-stage kidney disease require kidney transplantation so, try to make sure that you take the utmost care of yourself. Health experts insist to take medicines only when the doctor has recommended it as taking medicine on the drop of the hat can make you prone to kidney disease and OTC painkillers like ibuprofen and naproxen can damage kidneys hence, consult your doctor first before opting for kidney-safe treatments in case you’re nurturing pain.
Dr Vinod Kumar, Consultant – Nephrology and Renal Transplantation at Aster RV Hospital, shared, “No doubt, kidney transplantation is the better modality of treatment for patients suffering from end stage kidney disease (permanent form of kidney failure). Alternative option is dialysis which has its pros and cons. However, kidney transplantation is also not devoid of all problems. Even though the quality of life is much better after kidney transplantation when compared to dialysis, the recipient has to be more careful, cautious and responsible after transplantation.” He suggested some dos and don’ts after kidney transplantation surgery. These include –
· Take plenty of oral fluids. During the initial days after transplantation, 3 to 5 litres of fluid intake is recommended.
· Take anti-rejection medications (immunosuppressive drugs) at appropriate dose and at appropriate time as prescribed by the doctor. Keep alarms or reminders in the mobile phone so that you will not skip any dose.
· Wear a surgical mask while going out, take boiled and cooled water.
· Take freshly prepared food from home. If you are non-vegetarian, cook the meat and fish properly before consuming.
· Regular exercise for 30 to 45 minutes a day for at least 5 days in a week (total of 150 minutes in a week). Brisk walking, running, cycling and swimming can be considered.
· You can get back to your job, three months after the transplantation surgery if the clinical status is stable.
· Regular follow up with the doctor as advised is very much important. During initial days, you may have to visit the doctor twice a week and the frequency of visit will reduce over a period of time.
· Your appetite increases considerably after the transplant. There is a risk of weight gain and developing diabetes and high cholesterol after kidney transplantation owing to the medicines used. Following a healthy diet is very important. Consume food rich in fruits, vegetables, fiber, whole grains, lean meats, poultry and fish. Reduce the salt intake, reduce fatty foods and high carbohydrate diet.
· Isolate yourself if any family member develops fever, cold and cough till their symptoms subsides.
· Avoid lifting heavy weights for at least one month after kidney transplantation surgery.
· Don’t skip anti-rejection medicine without the doctor’s advice. Non-compliance with medicines can trigger rejection. If you miss a dose, please take a tablet immediately when you remember it.
· Avoid NSAID’s (pain killers) and other nephrotoxic medications (medicines which can damage the kidneys). Always consult a nephrologist before taking any new medicine.
· Avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juices. Avoid pomegranate and its juice. Both these fruits will interact with the anti-rejection treatment.
· Certain antibiotics also interact with the anti-rejection treatment. Take the opinion of the treating nephrologist before taking it.
· Avoid half cooked meat. Avoid eating food from outside or getting food parcels from outside and consuming it.
· Avoid crowded places like visiting malls, religious worship places, and family functions. Be careful while using the public transport system especially in the early stages.
· Avoid too many visitors during the initial days after surgery as there is increased risk of infection. In our country, it is a common practice for friends, relatives, and neighbors to pay a courtesy visit to a person after any major illness. That should be strictly avoided.
· Immunosuppressive medications are given to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ. If you miss a dose, it can lead to rejection. At the same time, these medicines reduce your body immunity and thereby increase the risk of infection. Strict adherence to infection control practices is of utmost importance. Finding the right balance between these two factors determines the success of transplantation.