So many chronic health conditions and diseases get a lot of publicity. Their associated organizations have celebrity spokespeople. The fund-raising drives to find cures are numerous. Meantime, there is kidney disease, an unglamorous, low-profile problem. Kidney problems disproportionately afflict the poor and minorities.
Most of us give very little thought about our kidneys. Perhaps this is partially due to the fact that they are directly associated with bodily waste elimination. Perhaps, too, kidney health is directly affected by lifestyle choices. Sugar consumption, drug and alcohol use, and conditions associated with poverty. We’ve been taught about these factors, but, again, we give little thought to them unless we become affected by a kidney problem.
Furthermore, kidney problems are additional symptoms of income and socioeconomic inequality. Lower income status translates to major health implications. Such health concerns include dialysis and the high cost of kidney replacement therapy. The monetary lack is found in lower income nations and in the low-income sectors of wealthier countries.
For instance, African, Asian, American Indian, and Hispanic people suffer higher rates of high blood pressure and diabetes. Both of these conditions are the leading causes of Chronic Kidney Disease. Statistically, African Americans develop hypertension (high blood pressure) earlier in life. The risks for heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure increase because of these situations.
While there may be some culture specific health practices and beliefs within some minority groups, the main issues involve more practical and problematic challenges. Water contamination, which leads to lack of hydration is a major issue in many countries. Lower income leads to people having to buy cheaper foods which lack essential nutrients and contain fattening, less healthy fillers. Unemployment and low income lead to a lack of adequate health insurance and access to medical care. Difficult living conditions contribute to the desire to escape through the abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
Aside from risk factors associated with poverty, there are also people who develop Chronic Kidney Disease as a result of inherited factors, such as juvenile diabetes, or abnormal kidney development. People who live in areas containing industrial pollution and chemical waste are at very high risk of developing kidney issues along with other dangerous health conditions.
Today is the tenth anniversary of World Kidney Day. This year’s theme is “Kidney Health for All”. Kidney related health organizations remind us that not all of us are equal in regards to risk of kidney disease and access to treatment.
Despite their small size, kidneys are absolutely vital organs that affect our health and longevity. We are reminded to have an extra glass of water, today. Proclaim a toast to your health and that of others as you dedicate yourself to better kidney health.
The Blue Jay of Happiness reminds us that dedicated researchers are daily searching for improved treatments and cures for kidney disease. The scientists face an array of problems ranging from ignorance to monetary. We need to show more concern and respect.