By HENRY OKONKWO
A week hardly passes without kidney failure sufferers being reported in the media as needing funds from kind-hearted Nigerians to go for corrective surgical operation or even transplant abroad, especially India.
Kidney ailment, say medical experts, is the “new silent killer” currently ravaging the populace.
In fact, the Nephrology Association of Nigeria (NAN), announced four years ago, that 36.8 million Nigerians sufferred from kidney disease at different stages.
Although at present, Nigeria does not have an update on the damning data, doctors estimate the prevalence of chronic kidney disease to be gravitating from 17 per cent to 21 per cent of the population.
Sadly amid this fearful warnings and statistics, kidney disorder is one chronic condition that is more common than is generally realized.
The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located behind the abdomen. They are considered one of the vital organs of the human body that perform various essential roles. The main function of the kidneys is to filter out excess water, waste products and toxins from the blood to form urine.
Additionally, the kidneys control the body’s chemical balance, produce red blood cells and keep bones healthy.
When there is a case of kidney malfunction or renal failure, dialysis and finally transplants are the only treatment options for survival. And these treatments not only cost millions of naira, but are also very taxing, because the availability of kidneys for transplant is difficult.
For instance a session of dialysis cost nothing less than N35,000 and a patient may need to undergo this twice a week! In some places, it is even higher.
The high cost of treatment and excruciating pains sufferers undergo, explain the urgency to raise money and do a transplant, as long as there is a donor. Kidney ailment can happen to male or female, from new born to the old people, though it’s more commonly found in the middle-aged.
The common kidney ailments include – chronic kidney diseases (CKD), acute kidney disease (AKD), kidney stones, polycystic kidney disease and renal cell carcinoma. Among these, CKD is very common and 50-60 per cent diabetic and hypertension patients are often affected by it.
Aside diabetes and hypertension, nephrologists say the risk factors for developing CKD are numerous and include high cholesterol, kidney infections and inflammation, kidney stones, long term use of some medicines known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and some herbal drugs.
According to experts, kidney ailments may not always have specific symptoms but one of the key signs is when one passes foamy urine. “This is indicative of protein leakage from the body,” says nephrologists, Dr. C.A Biodun. “Also general swelling of the body and seeing blood in your urine are some of the symptoms. So there’s a need to be alert and get the relevant tests done to detect kidney ailments.
However, “there may be certain non-specific symptoms too, which one shouldn’t ignore. These are decrease in urine output, urinary tract infections, weakness, lethargy, nausea and shortness of breath”, he said.
Kidneys are vital to overall human health. So, it is important to look after them. “It’s extremely important to take care of the kidneys and keep them healthy”, says another nephrologists, Dr Anthony Onochie. “The number of Nigerians suffering from increasing diabetes and hypertension are increasing by the day. Again many others live a faulty lifestyle and have food habits. These are major reasons why cases of CKD and other renal ailments have continued to go up”.
“One of the best things you can do is drink water, a significant amount on a daily basis, to prevent stones from forming. Kidney stones form when there’s a high mineral and salt count, and those formations can then block the flow of urine from the organ.
“We all know how painful these blockages can be. But many who have had them say that despite what they knew, you can’t believe how horrendous the pain is, until you’ve lived through the experience – which, of course, you hope to avoid. Some kidney stones survivors describe the sensation as having miniature razor blades gouging your insides. That said, do yourself a favour and get on the right path by drinking plenty of water, to avoid being a part of the millions of Nigerians stricken by kidney failure,” Onochie warns. There are other things you can do to ensure good kidney health. Some of these, according to health practitioners, include: Avoiding drinking too much of tea or coffee and halting excessive consumption of chocolate drinks.
Also you need to watch your intake of salt and caffeine, especially if you suffer from high blood pressure.
Other smart decisions include limiting one’s intake of sugar-sweetened drinks and alcohol, and eating fruit and vegetables on a regular basis. “A balanced diet ensures you get all the minerals and vitamins your body needs. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and grains, such as whole wheat pasta, bread and rice. But don’t eat too much salty or fatty food”, advises Dr. Anulika Adaba.
She adds: “Try to stop smoking completely and limit your intake of alcohol. Smoking and drinking too much alcohol raise your blood pressure. High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of kidney disease.”
Dr. Adaba further urges Nigerians to check their blood pressure regularly. “Raised blood pressure has no symptoms, but it can increase your risk of kidney and heart problems. A simple, quick and painless blood pressure check is available free of charge at most major hospitals.
If your blood pressure is higher than it should be, your doctor can suggest lifestyle changes or, if necessary, prescribe medication to reduce your blood pressure.
“Being too heavy raises your blood pressure, which is bad for your kidneys. Try to keep yourself at a healthy weight by keeping active and not overeating. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, cycling or swimming, every week,” she adds.
Avocados can help to treat metabolic syndrome, says review
A new review of studies looking at the health effects of avocados finds that there is “satisfactory clinical evidence” that the fruit can help to treat metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is defined as a cluster of risk factors that can raise the risk of other health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Risk factors include abdominal obesity, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol – or “good” cholesterol – high triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and high fasting blood sugar.
The presence of at least three of these risk factors warrants a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome.
According to the American Heart Association, metabolic syndrome affects around 23 per cent of adults in the United States.
Adopting a healthful diet is considered one of the best ways to prevent or treat metabolic syndrome. The new review – recently published in the journal Phytotherapy Research – suggests that avocados should form a part of this diet.
Avocados are a fruit from the avocado tree.
A number of studies have documented the possible health benefits of avocado. A study reported by Medical News Today in 2014, for example, found that eating half an avocado with lunch may aid weight loss, while more recent research linked the fruit to reduced levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, known as “bad” cholesterol.
These benefits have been attributed to the bioactive components of avocados, which include carotenoids, fatty acids, minerals such as calcium, iron, and zinc, and vitamins A, B, C, and E.
For their review, co-author Hossein Hosseinzadeh, of Mashhad University of Medical Sciences in Iran, and colleagues set out to determine how these components might help to combat the risk factors of metabolic syndrome.
Avocado has strongest effect on cholesterol levels.
To reach their findings, the researchers analyzed the results of various in vivo, in vitro, and clinical studies that investigated the effects of avocado on metabolic health.
Hosseinzadeh and colleagues found that the fruit has the strongest impact on lipid levels – that is, levels of HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides.
As an example, the team points to one study of 67 adults, of whom 30 had a healthy lipid profile and 37 had mild hypercholesterolemia. After adhering to an avocado-enriched diet for 1 week, both groups showed significant reductions in total and LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
The review also uncovered evidence that avocado is beneficial for weight loss. The researchers cite one study that found overweight or obese adults who ate one avocado every day for six weeks experienced significant decreases in body weight, body mass index (BMI), and the percentage of body fat.
Additionally, the team identified a number of studies associating avocado intake with reductions in blood pressure among patients with hypertension, and evidence suggests that the fruit might also help to reduce atherosclerosis – the narrowing or hardening of arteries caused by a buildup of plaque.
Notably, Hosseinzadeh and colleagues found that it is not just the flesh of the avocado that can benefit metabolic health – the peel, seed, and leaves of the fruit may also help.
SOURCE: Medical News Today.