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Monday, December 6, 2010

Kidney Disease Diet: Early Detection Thwarted By Silent Symptoms

by Keith Clark

"The initial clues began to appear about a year before I was diagnosed, however the indicators were little & insignificant," said Carrie Donohue. "I was getting intense headaches and muscle cramps in my hands and feet, and I was always thirsty. Looking back now, it seems apparent that these had been indicators of kidney disease, only my husband and I didn't know it then."

Carrie's story is not unique. When a person's kidneys fail, it seems to happen all of a sudden, unexpectedly. They discover afterwards that their kidneys had been failing gradually - unknown to them - for quite some time. The indicators were there, but often mistaken for something else, or just overlooked.

These silent symptoms have given rise to new approaches in the effort to stem the tide of chronic kidney disease (CKD), which medical doctors estimate at 1.9 million instances in Canada today. Thanks to study and sophisticated disease tracking methods, specific groups of individuals have been identified as most likely to develop kidney disease and also the push is on for better screening of individuals in danger.

The high-risk category includes individuals who are more than 50 years of age, have diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease, or possess a family history of kidney illness. Yet despite this information, it stays challenging to determine chronic kidney disease earlier enough to begin the kind of care that would both hold off or avoid the onset of end-stage renal illness when either dialysis or perhaps a transplant becomes necessary.

"Many of the symptoms of CKD are difficult to diagnose," stated Dr. Adeera Levin, former President of the Canadian Society of Nephrology and member of the Kidney Foundation of Canada's National Research Council. "Itching, thirst, fatigue and muscle cramping are not specific to kidney disease & don't raise a warning flag to most people, particularly because they are likely residing with other health conditions that tend to mask, or overshadow them."

"We realize that - if detected earlier enough - it is feasible to reverse or slow the progress of chronic kidney disease," explained Levin. "For many people this could mean not having to go on dialysis or, at the very least, hold off it for many years."

The Kidney Foundation of Canada recommends that people at risk take a much more proactive approach to their health. For instance, if you're a person with diabetes, strict blood sugar control is essential. Controlling hypertension may also stop kidney harm.

Nevertheless, not all people who develop chronic kidney disease fall into these high-risk groups. Carrie Donohue was otherwise healthy & in her mid-twenties when she started experiencing signs. That is why The Kidney Foundation also recommends that all Canadians learn about the warning signs of kidney illness, and that they speak to their doctor about the possibility of blood and urine tests to identify problems early.

These days, Carrie leads a normal life. Thanks to a living kidney donation from her husband, Ken, she was able to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. Her story has a happy ending. Nevertheless, a greater understanding and awareness of the warning signs could make stories like these a thing of the past. - 39969

About the Author:
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