The Kidney Health Foundation of Canada has earmarked March as Kidney Health Month.
Its purpose is to bring awareness to this incurable and often under-recognized disease.
For one Montrose native, a misdiagnosis in his younger years has lead to daily peritoneal dialysis, a treatment for patients with severe chronic kidney disease.
“I had symptoms when I was much younger,” said Doug Deyotte.
“It wasn’t caught early, because back then the doctor thought it was related to a sports injury.”
Deyotte’s story is not unique.
When a person’s kidneys fail, it seems to happen suddenly, without warning.
Only afterwards do they learn that their kidneys had been failing slowly, unknown to them for quite some time.
Deyotte said that this was the case with him; his kidney disease was silent.
“Awareness is key,” he said.
“If you have high blood pressure and other symptoms such as frequent urination at night. It might not be age-related changes, but kidney related.”
According to Statistics Canada kidney disease has increased by 60 per cent in the last 10 years,
A simple blood test called the eGFR (glomerular filtration rate) can be ordered by a family doctor to screen for kidney disease.
“Approximately 600 patients from the East Kootenay and Kootenay Boundary receive care through the Kootenay Renal Program each year,” said Maureen Lewis, manager for the program at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH).
Even though the number of people diagnosed with early stage kidney disease has grown considerably, the efforts between the BC Renal Agency and regional authorities to identify and treat kidney disease earlier, have reduced the annual dialysis growth rate from 16 to less than five per cent.
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In addition to various forms of dialysis treatment, the Kootenay Boundary renal service provides a robust program that includes renal health education, nutritional information, and social supports for residents with chronic kidney disease, said Lewis.
For Trail resident Tricia Irvin, a diagnosis of type-two diabetes at the age of 15 has lead to chronic kidney disease at age 35.
Irvin said she was told years ago that uncontrolled diabetes could result in kidney disease, but she carried on with life and never delved further into the issue.
“I’m not sure when exactly my kidney began to fail,” she said.
“My feet and legs were swelling and I felt tired and sick all the time.”
Irvin said that by the time she saw the renal specialist, her kidneys were functioning at 15 per cent.
Now, as she waits to be on the transplant list, Irvin requires inpatient hemodialysis three times each week to manage severe chronic kidney disease.
“I didn’t realize how sick I was until I started to receive hemodialysis,” she said.
“I have more energy, but mostly I’ve started to feel happy again.”
Connie Poling, a social worker in the KBRH renal unit, said that Irvin’s case in not unusual because diabetes accounts for 30 percent of kidney disease.
Thursday was World Kidney Day (WKD), an event that occurs annually, about halfway through Kidney Health Month.
The KBRH renal unit recognized WKD by having a strawberry cupcake sale and a game of ‘guess-the-number’ of jellybeans in a jar, with funds raised being donated to the Kidney Foundation.
On Saturday, an information booth, with a ‘jelly bean jar’ and T-shirt giveaway will be set up at Waneta Plaza from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.
This year, the Kidney Foundation of Canada is partnering with the Canadian Society of Nephrology and international community to raise awareness and draw attention to the global need for early detection and prevention of the growing epidemic of kidney disease.
Symptoms of chronic kidney disease:• foamy or bloody urine• fatigue• loss of appetite• nausea• headaches• frequent night time urination• puffiness of ankles, feet, or eyes• persistent generalized itching• bad taste in mouth• shortness of breath
High Risk Factors:• diabetes• high blood pressure• heart disease• family history• ancestral background that is Aboriginal, African, Asian, South Asian• Over 50