World Kidney Day 2022 – Kidney Health for All

Bridge the Knowledge Gap to Better Kidney Care

March is National Kidney Month, and March 10th, 2022 is World Kidney Day. It is an annual celebration which began in 2006, seeking to highlight the importance of the kidneys to overall health and wellbeing. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Kidney Health for All: Bridge the Knowledge Gap to Better Kidney Care.”

What are the function of the Kidneys?

The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs in the upper flank of the body, which have a very rich blood supply. The kidney has seven major functions:

  • Excrete waste and excess water through the creation of Urine
  • Regulate Blood Pressure
  • Balance minerals in the blood – eg. Sodium, Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium
  • Allow for proper muscle, nerve, bone and blood vessel function
  • Ensures strong bones, through the activation of Vitamin D to increase the absorption of Iron in the intestine
  • Regulates the pH of the blood
  • Create Red Blood Cells via Erythropoietin


Kidney Disease

Acute Kidney Injury affects 30 million persons globally, and kills 1.7 million persons annually. It is the earliest stage of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and it is often reversible, if proper care is taken. In later stages, CKD is irreversible. It affects approximately 1 in 10 persons, with a global burden of 600 million persons. It is the 6th leading cause of death globally, with 2.4 million deaths annually, and the 4th leading cause of death in Trinidad and Tobago.

Symptoms of CKD are generally experienced only when 90% of kidney function is lost, thus, the disease will be diagnosed at a late stage, which is harder to treat. Thus, it is imperative for the kidneys to be cared for. Five (5) simple steps, as recommended by the NHS, to keep the kidneys healthy are:

  • Remain Hydrated, by consuming at least two (2) liters of water daily;
  • Having a healthy, balanced diet, with an adequate amount of fruits, vegetables and grains, and limiting salt and fatty foods;
  • Regularly checking the blood pressure;
  • Not smoking or consuming alcohol; and
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.

The major symptoms of CKD are:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Swollen face, feet or hands
  • Breath which smells like ammonia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Metallic taste in the mouth
  • Itchy skin
  • Frequent urination at night
  • Foamy or bubbly urine
  • Brown, red or purple urine
  • Difficulty to pass urine

The major contributors to Kidney Injury and Kidney Disease are:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Infections
  • Lupus
  • Kidney Stones
  • Genetic Factors
  • Abuse of drugs

Tests for Kidney Health

To ensure that Kidneys are functioning optimally, the following tests are recommended:

  • Physical Tests
    • BMI Testing
    • Prostate Examination in men over 40 years of age
  • Blood Tests
    • BUN
    • Creatinine
    • Electrolytes
    • Blood Counts
    • Fasting Glucose
    • Fasting Cholesterol
    • Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)
  • Urine Tests
    • Albumin, including micro albumin
    • Creatinine clearance
    • Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR)
    • Nitrates
    • Blood

If these tests are abnormal, the following tests will be necessary:

  • Ultrasound
  • X-Rays
  • 24Hr Urine collection
  • Urine culture
  • Thyroid function
  • Autoimmune screen
  • Prostate ultrasound/biopsy

CKD is treatable, once diagnosed, through dialysis or organ transplantation.