The Faculty of Nursing and Health Sciences (FNHS) at Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) invited Dr. Mabel Aoun, head of the Nephrology Department at Saint-Georges Hospital in Ajaltoun, to discuss kidney disease in young adults in a talk titled, "I am in my 20s, So Why Would I Care about Kidney Disease?”
Dr. Aoun gave a brief overview of kidney function. Normally, human beings are born with two kidneys, but some are born with only one, or rarely, three kidneys. Having one or more kidneys does not affect how the body functions. The primary function of a kidney is to maintain water and electrolytes balance, rid the body of toxins and metabolized waste products, and produce some hormones.
She elaborated on the multiple factors that increase the risk for kidney disease, many of which are controllable. Factors that increase risk include dietary factors (high consumption of meats and alcohol, inadequate intake of water), smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic intake of some medications (such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and age and genetic factors. Although in its early stages kidney disease may be asymptomatic, general symptoms of kidney disease include anemia, stunted growth in children, and high blood pressure. Individuals may opt to discuss their risk of kidney disease with their family doctor and choose to screen for risk through urine and creatinine testing or kidney ultrasound.
Kidney diseases can develop early during the lifetime of individuals; hence, measures can be adopted during youth to prevent or reduce the risk of kidney disease and its complications. Measures include adopting a healthy diet (special emphasis on adequate intake of potassium), adequate intake of water, maintaining proper body weight, proper management of high blood pressure and diabetes (if any), avoiding use of nephrotoxic drugs (special emphasis on some weight loss herbal products), and performing early screening of kidney disease (recommended for people who have diabetes and/or high blood pressure, or a family history of kidney disease).