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Facts & Myths about Kidneys Diseases

One day, a woman approached me expressing her concern about her slightly elevated creatinine level. She had recently read an article about chronic kidney disease, which stated that individuals with this condition inevitably require dialysis. This information caused her to panic.

Kidney diseases

In today’s interconnected world, kidney disease has become a global issue, reminiscent of a pandemic. With the prevalence of social media, information on any topic is readily available, but the reliability of these sources is often questionable. It’s important to note that while some information may be accurate, there is also a plethora of misleading information circulating. Consequently, there are several rumors surrounding kidney diseases that must be addressed as a priority.

Here are some prevalent myths and corresponding facts surrounding kidney diseases:

Myth: Consuming excessive amounts of water can harm the kidneys.

Drink as per your thirst
Drink as per your thirst.

Fact: For a healthy individual with normally functioning kidneys, drink as per your thirst.There is no need to drink excessive water.Water is an excellent way to flush out toxins and harmful bacteria from the body, reducing the risk of kidney stones and urinary tract infections (UTIs). Try to maintain straw colour urine. However, individuals with chronic kidney disease (CKD) may experience fluid retention, and in such cases, it is crucial to consult a nephrologist for guidance.

Please note that the information provided here is based on general knowledge and may vary depending on individual circumstances. It’s always advisable to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice and recommendations.

Myth: Kidney diseases have noticeable symptoms when you have them.

Kidney diseases are silent in nature
Kidney disease is silent in nature

Fact: Kidney disease is silent in nature and symptoms surfaces only at advanced stage. However, it is possible to detect kidney disease through simple routine tests such as blood kidney function tests, urine tests, and albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR) tests. These tests can help assess kidney health and detect any potential issues, even in the absence of obvious symptoms. It is important for individuals to regularly undergo these tests to monitor their kidney health and detect any problems early on.

It’s worth mentioning that the absence of symptoms does not guarantee the absence of kidney disease. Regular screenings and tests are crucial for early detection and intervention. If you have concerns about your kidney health, it is recommended to consult a physician for proper evaluation and guidance.

Myth: If you have chronic kidney diseases (CKD), you must undergo dialysis as a mandatory treatment.

Fact: This information is entirely false. Chronic kidney disease is classified into various stages based on factors such as age, gender, creatinine clearance ranges, and glomerular filtration rate (the rate at which blood is filtered by the kidneys). In the early stages of CKD, individuals can manage their condition through lifestyle modifications, medications, dietary adjustments, and practices like yoga.

Dialysis is required only at end stage kidney diseases

Certain conditions may arise in the late stages of CKD, such as excessive fluid retention, shortness of breath on exertion, pleural effusion, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, and significantly elevated creatinine levels. In such cases, dialysis may be necessary. However, it’s important to note that dialysis is not a surgical operation but a procedure performed using a machine to remove waste products and excess fluid from the body, helping to maintain the body’s normal equilibrium.

The decision to undergo dialysis is based on the specific needs and condition of each individual. Only a Nephrologist, can guide and determine the most suitable treatment options for managing CKD at each stage.

Myth: If you undergo a kidney transplant, you will never experience kidney disease again.

Fact: While a kidney transplant can provide a new functioning kidney and significantly improve kidney function, it does not guarantee lifelong immunity against kidney disease. Following a kidney transplant, patients must take certain precautions to maintain the health and functionality of the transplanted kidney.

Dietary choices can impact the overall health of the transplanted organ.

Transplant recipients need to strictly adhere to medication schedules, as prescribed by their healthcare team, to prevent rejection of the transplanted kidney. They also need to follow a specific diet recommended by their healthcare professionals, as dietary choices can impact the overall health of the transplanted organ. Maintaining good hygiene practices and taking precautions to avoid infections are crucial for transplant patients, as infections can affect the transplanted kidney.

Regular exercise, after the initial recovery period, is beneficial for overall health and can contribute to a better and safer life for transplant patients. However, it’s important to note that even with a successful kidney transplant, ongoing care, monitoring, and management are necessary to ensure the long-term health and function of the transplanted kidney.

Who have undergone kidney transplantation must maintain a close relationship with their treating Nephrologist team

It is essential for individuals who have undergone kidney transplantation to maintain a close relationship with their treating Nephrologist team, follow their recommendations diligently, and seek regular medical follow-ups to detect and manage any potential complications or signs of kidney diseases.

Myth: Acute kidney injury (AKI) can lead to chronic kidney failure.

Fact: Acute kidney injury (AKI) is often caused by various factors. They includes severe blood loss, burns, major accidents, severe diarrhea, and underlying heart disease. It can occur during hospitalization. AKI can typically be corrected with appropriate medical interventions, electrolyte correction, and dietary adjustments. In some cases, temporary dialysis may be required while the patient is in the hospital.

AKI can contribute to the development of chronic kidney diseases
AKI can contribute to the development of chronic kidney disease, if accompanied by other factors such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and other health conditions.

However, it is important to note that AKI and chronic kidney failure are distinct conditions. AKI does not directly lead to chronic kidney diseases (CKD). Nevertheless, there is an association between AKI and the development of CKD. Prolonged or recurrent episodes of AKI can contribute to the development of chronic kidney disease, especially when accompanied by other contributing factors such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and other health conditions.

While AKI can be a risk factor for the development of CKD, it is not the sole cause. Proper management of AKI and addressing underlying factors are essential in minimizing the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. Regular medical follow-up and appropriate interventions are necessary to monitor kidney health and manage any potential complications or progression of kidney disease.

Myth: Alcohol intake damages kidneys.

Fact: Alcohol consumption does not directly damage the kidneys. However, excessive and chronic alcohol consumption can contribute to kidney damage indirectly, especially when coupled with other conditions such as liver disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and more.

alcohol consumption can elevate blood pressure, one of the cause of kidney diseases
alcohol consumption can elevate blood pressure

Binge drinking or heavy alcohol consumption can elevate blood pressure, which can strain the kidneys over time. Additionally, when the liver is unable to effectively filter toxins from the blood due to alcohol-related liver disease, the kidneys may experience an increased workload and be affected as a result.

Excessive alcohol intake can also lead to increased production of fat in the body. It thus reduced insulin sensitivity, potentially leading to dyslipidemia (abnormal lipid levels) and type 2 diabetes. These conditions are known risk factors for kidney damage.

If you consume moderate alcohol within recommended limits, then it is generally safe without underlying health conditions. However, excessive alcohol intake can have detrimental effects on overall health, including the risk of kidney damage. It is advisable to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle. This includes limited alcohol consumption, to promote kidney health and overall well-being.

Conclusion: It is indeed important to address and correct misconceptions surrounding kidney diseases. While we have addressed some common myths and provided factual information, it is crucial to understand that there are numerous rumours and misinformation circulating globally. You can consult a nephrologist or healthcare professional to obtain accurate and reliable information about kidney diseases. He can provide you proper guidance based on individual circumstances.

When seeking information, it is essential to approach social media and online sources with caution. While the internet can be a valuable resource, it is important to choose reputable and trustworthy sources for medical information. Healthcare professionals, medical websites, and recognized organizations specializing in kidney health are reliable sources of information.

Remember, your health is a priority. Consulting with medical professional is the best way to address concerns and receive personalized guidance for your specific situation.

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Dr Pratim Sengupta's Team (Nephro)
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