Kidney disease has been referred to as a silent killer because it can develop with subtle symptoms leading to advanced loss of kidney function that can require dialysis or kidney transplantation. In children, chronic kidney failure can develop without
major symptoms until most of the kidney function is lost.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), kidney disease in children can be caused by a number of conditions including birth defects, hereditary diseases, infection, systemic diseases, trauma, urine blockage or reflux and immunological diseases
including nephrotic syndrome.
Tej K. Mattoo, M.D. chief, Pediatric Nephrology and Hypertension on staff at Children’s Hospital of Michigan at the Detroit Medical Center,
says despite the subtle symptoms, it’s important for parents to be aware that timely detection of kidney problems offers the best chance to curb kidney damage and possibly reverse complications associated with the disorder.
Children or teens with the following symptoms should seek a visit to their doctor for further diagnosis.
Decreased or increased frequency of urination
Excessive thirst, particularly night time
Recurrent flank or abdominal (stomach) pain
Bloody diarrhea, pallor, and red urine
Red or cola-colored urine; excessively foamy urine suggests the presence of large amount of protein
Itching and pallor
Swelling (even mild) of the hands and feet and/or puffiness around the eyes
Unexplained weight loss or lack of appetite
Dr. Mattoo says that systemic diseases such as diabetes or lupus, or prolonged use of medications put children at higher risk for kidney damage and they should be monitored regularly. Any kidney abnormality diagnosed in fetus during pregnancy should
be followed after birth.
“Don’t ignore a high blood pressure reading as ‘something that does not happen to children and is seen in adults only’, he says.
Whether you are a child or adult, keep your kidneys healthy by drinking enough water, limiting salt intake and eating a healthy diet.
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