7-13 April 2017 #853

Saving our kidneys

R K Agrawal

The number of young Nepalis suffering from kidney problems and seeking treatment is increasing dramatically. This should be a matter of serious concern for families and the nation, because failing to take care of our kidneys will add to the burden on our healthcare system.

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The causes of kidney diseases in younger patients are different than those in the elderly population. The primary reason for kidney failures among the youth is Glomerulonephritis – an immunological disease aggravated by infections caused by problems related to lifestyle and the environment, like poor sanitation, drinking water, pollution and consumption of junk food.

About 80 per cent of Glomerulonephritis cases are primary, meaning that they are caused by altered immunological factors. In the remaining cases, the causes are secondary, led by infections. Increased use of painkillers and other drugs are also causing Glomerulonephritis.

We can save young kidneys by raising awareness about Glomerulonephritis so younger people can take preventive action. A simple urine examination is all it takes to detect the affliction, and if treated early, more than 90 per cent of cases can be cured. But late detection and lack of treatment may force the patient’s kidneys to fail, forcing dialysis treatment or even transplantation.

The government has made dialysis free, and has also announced that kidney transplants will be free from this month. Scaling up these services is important, but what is even more important is to prevent kidneys from failing in the first place.

R K Agrawal is the Head of the Nephrology Department at Bir Hospital

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