Common Misconceptions and the Real Story Behind Kidney Failure
If ignored, kidney disease may lead to symptoms and complications like acute kidney failure. Unfortunately, numerous myths are circulating about kidney disease, making it difficult for the “untrained” eye to separate the myth from the truth about each condition accurately.
► Myth 1: Kidney disease only affects older people.
Fact: While it is true that the risk of kidney disease increases with age, it can affect people of all ages, including children. Certain health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can also increase the risk of kidney disease at any age.
► Myth 2: Kidney disease always causes symptoms.
Fact: In the early stages of kidney disease, there may be no symptoms, hence commonly recognized as a “silent” disease. Symptoms may only appear when the disease has progressed to a more advanced stage.
► Myth 3: Kidney disease is caused by poor diet and lifestyle choices.
Fact: While poor diet and lifestyle choices can contribute to the development of kidney disease, many other factors can cause kidney disease, including genetic factors, autoimmune diseases, cancer, medications, and infections.
► Myth 4: If you have kidney disease, you need dialysis treatment or a kidney transplant.
Fact: While it is true that some people with kidney disease will eventually need dialysis or a kidney transplant, many others are able to manage their condition through medication and lifestyle changes. With early detection and the appropriate treatment, the need for dialysis or transplant may be avoided.
► Myth 5: Kidney disease is not preventable.
Fact: While some risk factors for kidney disease, such as age and family history, cannot be changed, steps can be taken to reduce the risk of developing the condition. These include maintaining a healthy diet, staying physically active, controlling blood pressure and blood sugar levels, avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption, and getting regular check-ups with a healthcare provider.
► Myth 6: Only people with diabetes or high blood pressure are at risk for kidney disease.
Fact: While diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of kidney disease, there are other risk factors that can lead to kidney disease. These include a family history of kidney disease, obesity, smoking, autoimmune diseases, and kidney infections.
► Myth 7: Avoid all protein in your diet if you have kidney disease.
Fact: Protein is an essential nutrient required to maintain overall health. People with kidney disease should work with their kidney specialist to develop an individualized diet plan that meets their nutritional needs.
► Myth 8: Kidney disease is always a chronic, lifelong condition.
Fact: While some forms of kidney disease are chronic and may require long-term management, there are other types that can be cured with appropriate kidney failure treatment. For example, acute kidney injury (AKI) is a sudden onset of renal failure caused by medication toxicity, dehydration, or infections. And in most cases, AKI can be reversed if detected early and treated promptly.
► Myth 9: Drinking lots of water can cure kidney disease.
Fact: While staying hydrated is essential for kidney health, drinking excessive water may not cure kidney disease. Drinking too much water can be harmful, especially for people with advanced-stage kidney disease, as they may have difficulty excreting excess fluids. Therefore, drinking enough water to stay hydrated is essential, but not too much that it puts unnecessary strain on the kidneys.
► Myth 10: Kidney disease is not a severe health condition.
Fact: Kidney disease is a severe health condition that may have significant impact and consequences if left untreated. It can lead to complications such as high blood pressure, anaemia, acidosis, heart problems, and bone disease. In advanced cases, it will lead to kidney failure, which requires either dialysis or a kidney transplant.