FLORIDA, March 27, 2013 — March is almost over.
Most people probably associate this month with the beginning of spring, college basketball, losing one hour’s sleep, or various religious holidays. While all of that is well and good, March is important for another reason.
It is National Kidney Month.
As the name implies, this pertains to kidney disease, which is a silent, but nonetheless brutal, affliction. According to the National Kidney Foundation, the disease stands as America’s ninth most common cause of death. 26 million in this country alone suffer from it, yet most of these are unaware of their illness. More than 95,000 individuals currently await kidney transplants. Over 590,000 are now undergoing kidney failure.
Despite the obvious importance of kidney health, it falls short of receiving the same sort of public attention that heart disease and brain tumors do.
“Chronic kidney disease often tends to be asymptomatic until the very late stages. As a result a lot of people who have kidney disease may be unaware of it or are not burdened by it in the early stages,” Izu Nwakoby, a central Florida nephrologist, explains. “When symptoms develop they tend to do so gradually. The earliest symptoms such as fatigue and decreased appetite are non specific and are symptoms that may result from a wide range of conditions, many of which are not severe.
“These symptoms may not immediately point to the kidneys as the underlying cause. As a result of these factors, patients with chronic kidney disease tend to present in ways that are a lot less dramatic than patients with heart disease or a brain tumor.”
Interestingly enough, kidney disease and kidney failure do not share a most frequent cause.
“The most common cause of kidney disease is hypertension,” he continues. “The most common cause of kidney failure is diabetes.”
Fortunately, there are methods of preventing the disease in one’s own life.
Nwakoby says that “(p)roper treatment of the common risk factors like hypertension and diabetes would go a long way towards preventing kidney disease. Kidney disease often occurs as acomplication of these common conditions. I would also recommend regular medical evaluations to help with early detection.”
His “hope is that the rate of kidney disease would decline over the coming years.” Considering the socioeconomic ramifications of such a serious illness, from lives cut short to astounding hospital bills, it only seems reasonable that this is something which most everybody can agree on.
Whether or not this dream will become a reality is another question altogether.
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