As of 2016, Children and Adolescents constituted 5% of the patients with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD). Some of the causes of kidney diseases in young people include: 

  • Kidney infection 
  • Blocked urinary tract 
  • High blood sugar 
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease 

It is not common to meet a teenager who is suffering from Diabetes and Hypertension but times have changed. Unhealthy eating habits are a big contributor to young adults getting diagnosed with Diabetes and Hypertension which eventually leads to Kidney diseases. 

 I met a 17-year-old girl at one of our biggest hospitals in Kenya. Her story moved me almost to tears. From afar she seemed like a very healthy vibrant young girl but upon examination, my findings were as follows.  

  • Abdominal swelling and pain 
  • Facial puffiness
  • Bilateral lower limb swelling 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Diabetes 

These among others are consistent with the early warning signs of Kidney disease. Other common signs include frequent severe headaches, Unpleasant-smelling urine which can be cloudy or dark brown. Some of the interventions done for teenagers include Dialysis. This is not a strange term to most people. This is simply where a dialysis machine cleans and purifies your blood to maintain a balance of electrolytes.  

There are two types of Dialysis, Peritoneal, and Hemodialysis. The only difference between the two is where the blood is cleaned from. In peritoneal, the blood is cleaned inside your body whereby fluid is put in your abdomen to absorb waste from the blood. In hemodialysis, A dialysis machine is used to clean the blood outside your body.  

Some other interventions done can be kidney/renal transplants. This is where a suitable donor is identified to donate a kidney to a patient. Some studies have shown however that Young people have a high likelihood of transplant failure and return to dialysis. Some of the factors contributing to this include rejection, Polyomavirus nephropathy, and glomerulonephritis, and missed appointments to urologists for Kidney Functions Tests.  

Finally, what is to be done to reduce the number of cases we encounter in young people? Healthy and proper hydration, being fit and exercising, avoiding the use of alcohol and other recreational drugs. Also, Patient education also has a part to play in preventing Kidney disease. We only live once but let’s do it right and make it count. On this day, I will pose a question to you, how are your kidneys doing?  

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