Every year, millions of people battle kidney disease. There are many different types of this disease, but the most common, which is increasing every year at a rate of six to eight percent, is chronic kidney disease.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) attacks the kidneys slowly and progressively over a period of time. It can take years for the damage to these organs to be noticeable because there are no symptoms, which is why the disease is often called the “silent killer.”
Other forms of kidney damage include acute kidney disease, which occurs suddenly due to an injury, infection or ingesting a toxin. Congenital kidney disease is present at birth, but may also not produce any symptoms until a person is in their 20s or 30s.
Kidney disease goes through several stages, with the final stage being end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), also referred to as end-stage renal disease (ESRD). According to the World Health Organization, an ageing population, and increasing rates of type 2 diabetes and hypertension are driving the increase of ESRD. Currently, there are over 1.4 million people on life-saving dialysis (mostly in high-income countries), and the number is growing by about eight percent every year.
Prevalence of Kidney Disease Around the World
First, the term prevalence refers to the estimated number of people who are managing a kidney disease at a specific time. Incidence refers to the number of diagnoses each year, or number of new cases. Here’s a snapshot of the estimated prevalence of kidney disease in various countries:
Country – # of People
China – 35,336,295
India – 28,976,185
USA – 7,989,154
Indonesia – 6,487,322
Brazil – 5,008,633
Pakistan – 4,331,076
Russia – 3,916,941
Bangladesh – 3,845,292
Japan – 3,464,206
Mexico – 2,855,518
Philippines – 2,346,281
Germany – 2,242,434
Egypt – 2,070,841
Turkey – 1,874,319
Iran – 1,836,484
France – 1,643,894
United Kingdom – 1,639,717
Congo Kinshasa – 1,586,566
Italy – 1,579,504
South Korea – 1,312,241
South Africa – 1,209,259
There is no orthodox cure for kidney damage. Once you reach end-stage kidney disease, dialysis or a kidney transplant are currently the only medical treatment options. While dialysis has long been the main treatment for ESKD, it has a relatively low survival rate once started, at about five years.
The survival rate varies, however. For instance, it is lower for people with diabetes than those with glomerulonephritis, a disease that causes inflammation of the glomeruli in the kidneys, leading to kidney damage. In many cases, a transplant is preferred to dialysis and may triple life expectancy after kidney failure.
The WHO indicates that there are about one million new cases of ESKD ever year. There are about 63,000 kidney transplant operations conducted annually around the world, and at least 200,000 more people are on waiting lists for these organs. (These surgeries, however, continue to be the domain of richer countries.)
Two of the main sources for kidneys have been family members, or deceased donors. However, voluntary donor rates have not kept pace with the increasing occurrence of ESRD. Consequently, this has led to a global trade in kidneys, which many health professionals and others around the world criticize for ethical reasons.
Donors in this market are largely from poorer nations, and are usually paid about 00, yet organ recipients pay ,000 or more for the organs. Donors also do not usually receive appropriate post-operative care, putting their own lives in serious jeopardy.
Researchers are currently trying to find alternatives to human organ donation to treat end-stage kidney disease. Areas of research include human cell and tissue engineering and transplants using organs from other animals.
However, before it comes to that, increased awareness of kidney disorders and prevention methods should be priorities.
There are many natural ways to prevent CKD and to treat it in the early stages. Maintaining a healthy weight to prevent type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure is a good first step. This includes eating healthy, nutritious meals, and exercising at least at a moderate-intensity level four to five times a week.
There are many herbs available that have been tested and proven to improve kidney health and even reverse kidney damage. However you should always seek professional advice and should also be aware of the potential side effects or interactions of any natural remedies or herbs you take. Some herbal medicines, have been associated with a higher risk of CKD, which is why you should never self prescribe these medications
If you already have a disease that can cause chronic kidney damage, make sure you follow your doctor’s prescribed treatment program. You should also have your kidney function checked regularly if you have a contributing disease. Also, let your doctor know if you have a family history of CKD, or any of the leading causes such as diabetes or hypertension.