Health Check: How to combat and prevent kidney disease

Consulting Nephrologists discuss how to prevent Kidney Disease
Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 7:22 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - According to the American Kidney Fund, chronic kidney disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

According to American Health Rankings, more than 4.5 percent of West Virginians have kidney disease, far higher than the national average of 2.9 percent.

Diabetes is the top cause of kidney failure, causing about 47 percent of its new cases. Eighty percent of Americans are at risk for the disease if they fail to take the test needed to detect it.

“But to put it into perspective, diabetes is one of the leading causes of death,” said Dr. Siddharth Verma, a consulting nephrologist at WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center. “Roughly 37 percent of patients with diabetes tend to have kidney disease, and nine out of 10 people who have kidney disease do not know about it. Half of the 37 percent who have kidney disease have moderate to advanced kidney disease. Out of all the patients on dialysis, up to 38 percent of them have diabetes listed as their primary cause of kidney failure. So in our state, there’s a huge burden of both kidney disease and diabetes. And I think that’s something that we have to be we have to educate people about.”

Dr. Verma said the timeline of kidney disease could vary between people depending on what type of diabetes they have.

“People with type one diabetes are diagnosed earlier,” Dr. Verma said. “Kidney disease tends to follow after a few years, commonly, as long as they get care at the appropriate time. in type two diabetics, which is mostly acquired, although there can be other causes that can cause it. diabetes tends to be found or diagnosed and that much earlier.”

Dr. Neeharika Muddana, another consulting nephrologist at WVU Medicine Camden Clark, said you don’t have symptoms in the early stages of kidney problems. Usually, symptoms don’t appear until the late stages of kidney disease, so early detection is vital.

“But once your kidney function goes below 30 percent, you will start having symptoms like fatigue, lack of sleep, decreased appetite, weight loss, and decreased concentration,” Dr. Muddana said. “If it goes even below 15 percent, you will start having symptoms like pruritis, which means itching. And you also have taste changes, like altered tastes. Like you feel a metallic sensation of the foods, whatever you eat, and you start having the swelling in the legs. These are the symptoms you need to look for.”

Dr. Muddana said the patients who need to get screened have a significant family history of kidney problems, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

“Most of our body 60 percent of our body is composed of water, the kidney loves water, as you get more obesity is mostly replaced by the fat. So your water content in the body goes down, and the kidney has to filter so much, and it gets worn out. So that’s why we need to screen the patients who are morbidly obese for kidney problems, too,” Dr. Muddana said.

St. Marys resident Eric Fox has type one diabetes and is a patient of Dr. Verma’s. He had been hospitalized three times for severe swelling throughout his legs and entire body. After talking to his primary care doctor, Fox was referred to Dr. Verma, who discovered Fox was suffering from stage five kidney failure in late November 2021.

“I was scared to death,” Fox said. “I knew it was bad. I just didn’t know it was that bad.”

Dr. Verma put Fox on dialysis in December, which he does every day from the comfort of his home.

“Dialysis is something in which a machine takes over the job of your kidneys,” Dr. Verma said. “Your kidneys do a lot of things, some things that dialysis does not take care of. But mostly, it clears out the waste product side of your body and clears the extra water out of your body.”

According to Dr. Verma, hemodialysis is dialysis through the blood. Patients go to a center and get dialyzed, mainly three times a week, and it can be up to four hours every session.

The other kind of dialysis is called peritoneal dialysis, which is done through the belly and can be done at home. The patient can do it. When the patient goes to sleep, they hook themselves up to a machine, or they can do it manually. Peritoneal dialysis is the kind of dialysis Fox is doing.

Fox is currently on the kidney transplant list, and while this is a case of chronic kidney disease, there is one reversible form called acute kidney injury.

“I was a patient, a cancer patient, and I was the one who reacted to the treatments,” Ravenswood resident Mary Pat Glover said. “It caused it to enter into my kidneys.”

Glover was supposed to have a total of five chemotherapy treatments. After the first one, she was fine. After the second one, she said she couldn’t eat, and she dropped weight.

Dr. Muddana gave Glover steroids and encouraged her to have a more active lifestyle while modifying her diet.

Both Mary Pat and Eric share the advice they would give to anyone going through a similar situation.

“Well, the first, of course, the first thing you think it’s frightening, but I was so sick,” Glover said. “I didn’t realize how sick I was. You know your body, so just keep fighting for it.”

“Take care of your diabetes, and that’s the number one thing,” Fox said. “I definitely wish I would have done better with mine.”

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