More than 850 million people worldwide suffer from kidney disease and although accurate statistics are not available in SA, hypertension and type 2 diabetes mellitus (in line with worldwide trends) are the dominant diseases associated with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), particularly in black ethnic groups. pic: pexels.com

With Kidney Awareness Week taking place from 2 to 6 September, we look at how dialysis can help.

More than 850 million people worldwide suffer from kidney disease and although accurate statistics are not available in SA, hypertension and type 2 diabetes mellitus (in line with worldwide trends) are the dominant diseases associated with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), particularly in black ethnic groups.

“Kidney disease can be stealthy as it often goes undetected since there are no obvious symptoms prior to kidneys decompensating”, says Dr Riyas Fadal, Life Renal Dialysis National Manager.

“There are two main types of dialysis - haemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis. Haemodialysis, a treatment option for people suffering from kidney disease, uses a dialyser (also referred to as an “artificial kidney”) to remove excess fluid and waste products from the blood to correct electrolyte imbalances,” said Fadal.

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

Fadal said peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of the abdominal cavity (the space in your body that holds organs like the stomach, intestines, and liver) to filter the blood. This treatment is done daily and is prescribed by your doctor if specific criteria are met.

“Patients with renal failure must adjust to life on dialysis which can be disruptive to their usual daily routine with frequent visits to the renal dialysis unit. For many patients, their renal dialysis unit becomes their second home, where they spend almost half of their week, every week, and will do so for the rest of their lives unless they are fortunate enough to receive a kidney transplant,” said Fadal.

“Many people aren’t aware of the symptoms of kidney disease and early detection is key in avoiding the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant if treated soon enough. By ensuring regular visits with your Doctor and avoiding lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking, unhealthy eating and lack of exercise, you can protect your kidneys from irreversible damage.”