In view of the growing problem of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in Nigeria, a consultant transplant nephrologist, and Clinical Director, St Nicholas Hospital Lagos, Dr. Ebun Bamgboye, has an advice for people who still indulge in skin bleaching or those who take analgesics (pain killers) arbitrarily without prescription: stop the habit now to avoid kidney failure if you desire to live long.
In an exclusive interview with this reporter, Dr. Bamgboye says, unknown to most people, bleaching creams and drugs such as analgesics, when absorbed by the body over a long period could have a serious effect on the kidney and may result in its malfunction or damage.
According to him CKD is emerging as a major worldwide public health problem. But bleaching and drug abuse alone are not the only causes of kidney failure in our environment. Dr. Bamgboye disclosed the increase of CKD in the country, just as elsewhere in the world, is due to the rise in systemic diseases that damage the kidney, such as hypertension and type-2 diabetes.
“As many as ten per cent of the Nigerian population have hypertension. Of this number, only one-third are aware that they have hypertension. Also, of this one-third, only one-third are on treatment and out of this, only one third have their hypertension well controlled. So, it is not surprising that hypertension is the commonest cause of kidney failure in our society,” the renowned nephrologist said.
He further identified infections as another cause of kidney problem. According to him, untreated infections may, after a long time in the body, spread to the kidneys where, if still not treated on time, it may lead to damage or failure of these important organs.
People who indulge in habits which have been identified as capable of causing kidney failure will however need to listen to Dr. Bamgboye on the functions of the kidney for a better appreciation of his warning.
According to him, the kidneys, as small as they are, perform such diverse functions that it is impossible for the body to do without one.
The kidneys, he said, regulate the amount of water in the body. Thus the more water an individual takes, the more urine he will pass as the kidneys ensure that adequate amount is passed based on the amount of water that is available in the system.
Apart from this, the kidney also regulates the individual’s blood pressure. It produces a hormone which stimulates the bone marrow to produce blood and this is why, the doctor said, failure is often associated with anaemia (low blood).
Unfortunately, the symptoms which are often associated with kidney problems could also be seen in several other ailments, a reason which experts say is responsible for non or little detection of most kidney problems on time. Such symptoms, according to Dr. Bamgboye include nausea, vomiting, weakness or tiredness and anaemia.
Treatment would however depend on the severity of the condition and state of the kidney. According to him, acute renal failure could be treated through dialysis, a process whereby the blood is purified of the accumulation of the toxic waste substances through a machine or sometimes through an artificial kidney. The patient may recover eventually provided he has recovered from the primary illness which caused the acute renal failure.
An individual with chronic renal failure in which the kidneys are permanently damaged may however require kidney transplantation. Fortunately, kidney transplant is now being performed in Nigeria though the cost still remains very high and beyond the means of most average patients.
Bamgboye who is also the President, Transplant Association of Nigeria (TAN) and Nigerian Association of Nephrology (NAN) however believes that kidney diseases are better prevented or at least detected early. This is because there’s little that can be done for a patient, except transplantation, when a permanent damage has occurred. A major way to prevent problem is by ensuring that diseases such as hypertension, diabetes or sickle cell anaemia which may result in kidney damage are well controlled. Dr. Bamgboye also recommends that infections should be adequately treated to prevent future kidney problems.
For those suffering from non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, the nephrologist advised that they should see their doctor periodically for a review of their condition so that the disease would not adversely affect the kidneys. Every patient going to the hospital, he further recommended, should be made to undergo necessary tests on their body electrolytes.
Of course, people who bleach will have to drop the habit while those who take analgeiscs without doctors’ advice will also have to learn to do without them or seek proper medical advice – if they want to keep their kidneys healthy.