WHY do we ignore the kidneys? Everyone focuses on the heart, skin or liver but we need the kidney to keeps us alive too.

Dr Riyas Fadal, national manager of renal dialysis at Life Healthcare Group, said regular check-ups, exercise, water and healthy eating, as well as not smoking and drinking helps keep your kidneys going.

He said kidney failure requires dialysis or a kidney transplant – and you want to avoid both of these issues by looking after your kidneys.

“People with failing kidneys visit the renal dialysis unit. They have to spend almost half of every week there for the rest of their lives unless they receive a kidney transplant.”

Comorbid diseases

Mzansi does not have reliable kidney disease statistics but it is strongly linked or comorbid with other problems such high-blood pressure or hypertension and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

These are commonly linked diseases all over the world and are dominant diseases associated with end-stage kidney disease, but especially among black groups.

Hypertension or type 2 diabetes attacks tiny filters in the kidney called nephrons.

The destruction of nephrons is slow and silent but the damage to the kidney may suddenly manifest all at once if there is a genetic disorder, severe dehydration, abuse of anti-inflammatory medication or of over-the-counter drugs.”

The types of dialysis

There are two types of dialysis – haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

Haemodialysis is a treatment for people suffering from kidney disease. It is known as the artificial kidney or dialyser.

It removes excess fluid and waste products from the blood to correct electrolyte imbalances.

The treatment can be carried out either by the patient at home or by travelling regularly to a dialysis unit. Patients need two to three sessions a week.

Peritoneal dialysis is a daily treatment that uses the lining of the abdominal cavity – the space under your ribs that holds the stomach, intestines, and liver – to filter the blood.

Kidney failure symptoms

- Fatigue or feeling constantly tired

- The need to urinate often – especially at night which also comes with age

- Itchy skin

- Nausea

- Shortness of breath

- Erectile dysfunction – men have difficulty getting and/or sustaining an erection

- Water retention – swollen feet, hands and ankles

- Blood and/or protein in the urine

Kidney facts for Mzansi

- Kidney failure in Mzansi adults is primarily linked to inherited hypertension or type 2 diabetes.

- Kidney failure in the black population is four times higher than other groups – due to the high incidence of hypertension.

- Hypertension and diabetes can be prevented or, if diagnosed early enough, treated properly.

For more information about the kidney, kidney diseases, cormorbid diseases or kidney dialysis, visit www.lifehealthcare.co.za/patient-information/patient-services/complementary-services/life-renal-dialysis/