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March 2023 | News, Patient News, Patient Stories, Staff News

As many as one in 10 adults in Manitoba are living with kidney disease, and most don’t even know it, prompting renal health experts and the Kidney Foundation of Canada to remind individuals at higher risk to get checked during routine blood and urine tests.

“Manitoba’s rate of kidney failure continues to rise. As we mark Kidney Health Month, we want to remind Manitobans at higher risk of kidney disease to get checked regularly by their doctor – even during a pandemic,” said Dr. Mauro Verrelli, Shared Health’s provincial medical specialty lead for renal health. “Minimizing your level of risk and detecting kidney disease early will improve health outcomes by delaying or preventing kidney failure.”

Known risk factors for chronic kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, known kidney or urinary tract problems, very frequent use of known toxins (such as painkillers), heart disease, vascular or autoimmune disease and a family history of kidney disease.

“With some of the highest rates of kidney disease in Canada, we encourage Manitobans to take steps to protect their kidneys. This includes being active and eating healthy foods,” said Greg Unger, executive director of The Kidney Foundation, Manitoba Branch. “Throughout Kidney Health Month, we encourage Manitobans to think about the importance of good kidney health as well as discussing organ and tissue donation with their families to help Manitobans who are waiting for the Gift of Life.”

The need for early detection is of paramount importance, as kidneys can lose 80 per cent of their function before any symptoms are felt.

Once symptoms start, they can include:

• Foaming, bloody (resembling cola or tea) or cloudy urine;

• Swelling;

• Having to pee during the night;

• Nausea and vomiting;

• Persistent, ongoing itching;

• Bone or joint pain;

• Decreased urine output (less than two cups per day); and

• Shortness of breath.

Cristina Rosales noticed the start of her symptoms in March of 2022. The 35-year-old said her body was swelling and she overall felt very ill. A trip to the doctor and quick biopsy found Rosales to be in stage four of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).

“My kidneys were functioning at 19 per cent,” said Rosales. “Months went by, and then my kidneys started failing more, and then it was at 7% and the swelling was really bad, I was pretty much bedridden.”

In stages four and five of CKD, the kidneys have advanced damage and will need dialysis or a transplant in the near future. Rosales started dialysis right away and was put on a transplant list in June.

Verrelli noted there are a number of things individuals can do to care for their kidneys, including limiting the amount of alcohol they drink, not smoking, taking medications as prescribed, maintaining a healthy blood pressure and body weight while being physically active, eating healthy, balanced meals and knowing whether your family has a history of kidney disease. For diabetics, managing their disease is also crucial.

For Rosales, who also has diabetes, the adjustment in how she manages her health has been difficult at times but has been aided by the switch to home hemodialysis.

“I can set my own schedule whenever I want to do it, I’m at home with my family and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything,” said Rosales.

The month of March is designated as Kidney Health Month in Canada. World Kidney Day is March 9.

For more information on kidney health, please visit KnowYourKidneys.ca and the Manitoba Renal Website.

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