8 vital signs of kidney disease that Malaysians must know

WHILE a simple urine test can imply the presence of kidney diseases by indicating if albumin (protein) and blood are present in the urine, many chronic kidney diseases do not manifest clear warning signals in their early stages.

According to the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), diabetes and high blood pressure are the two known leading causes of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) which accounts for more than 60% of new cases of dialysis patients in Malaysia.

Kidney disease can also develop from infection, inflammation of blood vessels in the kidneys, kidney stones and cysts. Other possible causes include prolonged use of pain relievers and use of alcohol or other drugs (including prescription medications).

Pic credit: The Star

In conjunction with this year’s World Kidney Day on March 10, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin revealed that more and more younger Malaysians are being diagnosed with chronic kidney disease that requires dialysis.

There are currently over 40,000 kidney patients in Malaysia with over 8,000 new patients diagnosed annually since 2018. If this upward trend continues, Malaysia can expect some 106,000 kidney patients who would need dialysis by the year 2040, of which 30% will be aged under 45.

Below are eight ‘simple’ tell-tale signs that one’s kidneys are at risk, hence the need to swiftly seek medical opinion (courtesy of the Timeless Life portal):

  • Swelling: If your kidneys don’t work well, the excess of fluids won’t be eliminated. As such, different parts of your body will start to swell;
  • Urination changes: Foamy urine, trouble urinating, changes in the urine colour, an increased urge to urinate as well as pain during urination can all signify failing kidneys;
  • Skin rashes: In case of non-proper function of the kidneys, numerous toxins will be accumulated. Your skin will look irritated, dry and with rash. You can’t solve the problem by only applying lotions or skin creams. You need to heal your kidneys first;
  • Fatigue: If you have a problem with your kidneys, you may also experience fatigue. If you have healthy kidneys, they will produce a hormone called EPO (erythropoietin) which is important for good red blood cell production. In that way, the oxygen will be properly distributed through our body. In case the production of these blood cells is decreased, they are unable to deliver a good amount of oxygen through your body and the person will experience fatigue;
  • Shortness of breath: This is another symptom of malfunctioned kidneys which also appears because of the lack of oxygen;
  • Metallic taste in the mouth: You may be experiencing kidney problems if you feel like you have a metallic taste in your mouth. You might also experience severe changes in your appetite;
  • Back pain: Back pain which appears suddenly around your kidneys is also a symptom of a kidney problem; and
  • Loss of focus and dizziness: You may also have problems with your kidneys in case you are often disoriented or you feel dizzy.

The US National Kidney Foundation lists down seven golden rules of kidney disease prevention, namely (i) getting regular check-ups; (ii) control blood pressure; (iii) manage blood sugar; (iv) eat a healthy diet; (v) exercise regularly (the easiest of which are walking or do household chores); (vi) quit smoking; and (vii)  do not overuse pain killers. – Sept 12, 2022


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