Myths and Facts about Kidney Disease

Myth: Kidney disease is Hereditary.
Fact: Very few kidney diseases are hereditary for example polycystic kidney disease.

Myth: Single or double kidney failure.
Fact: All medical diseases affect both kidneys. The word kidney failure refers to both kidneys not functioning. If a single kidney is not functioning, the blood urea will not go up.

Myth: Dialysis once started has to be permanent.
Fact: This depends on whether the patient has acute or chronic kidney failure. Acute failure might require only temporary dialysis.

Myth: It is not safe to donate a kidney.
Fact: If the general health of the donor is normal (without diabetes or blood pressure) it is safe to donate a kidney. Donors have led a normal life including marriage and childbirth, etc.

Myth: Water should be consumed in large quantities by patients with kidney disease.
Fact: Often restriction in water consumption is required since maintenance of water balance in the body is one of the functions of the kidneys.

Myth: Beer drinking is good for the kidneys.
Fact: Beer, because of its large water content produces increased urine output and does not improve kidney functioning.

Myth: Salt substitutes can be used in kidney patients.
Fact: Salt substitutes, being potassium chlorides, are more dangerous in patients with kidney failure as potassium excretion is already affected.

There has been a remarkable increase in the incidence of kidney disease in the last decade because of both increasing detection and a true increase in the occurrence of the disease itself. High occurrence of diabetes, hypertension, lack of physical exercise and the use of drugs toxic to the kidneys are possible causes for the rise that we see.

The basic functions of kidneys are:

  • Maintenance of the internal environment i.e. the pH, water content and electrolyte content of the body so that each and every cell and organ in the body can function properly. This is why, when the kidneys are diseased, the symptoms and signs are sometimes seen in different organs.
  • Excretion of waste products of metabolism and drugs from the body. Again a very important function which explains why drugs should carefully be used in kidney patients.
  • Production of hormones responsible for the bone growth (Vitamin-D), blood production by the marrow (Erythropoietin) and blood pressure (Renin).