Bleaching cream, slimming tea can cause kidney disease —Expert
Dr Ogochukwu Ogoye is a nephrologist and President of Saint Linus Renal Care Initiative, a centre working with the Delta State Teaching Hospital. In this interview with Ogoye says more Nigerians are having chronic kidney disease because of lack of funds
bodies that give grants but what about the public? At St Linus, we are introducing membership cards for members who are committed with as little as N1,000 on a monthly basis to as high as any amount. What we are saying is that all of us can actually be fund providers for these patients. CKD has been with us for years; it had been with us even before I was born and we are still here crying about it after all these years.
The machine is available in urban areas but not in the rural areas. In the rural areas, early diagnosis is the problem because the symptoms may appear like malaria in hospitals that are not equipped to diagnose it. Some are actually treated as malaria and typhoid fever until they realise there is no improvement and refer the patient to another hospital. By the time the patients get to us at the teaching hospital, the patients are already at the fifth phase of treatment and will need dialysis.
People say drink enough water, yes, you need to stay hydrated but not to take excessive water. We are in a hot climate so you have to stay hydrated. Eat the right food and stay away from additives. Additives are common in can foods. They have lots of salt because salt is what is used to preserve can foods and you don’t want too much salt because salt means blood pressure and blood pressure can lead to kidney failure. Try to prevent diabetes.
Some people will say, ‘Oh, when I have a headache, I know that my blood pressure is high.’ Sometimes your blood pressure would have hit the roof and you wouldn’t know. Kidney failure has no early symptoms until when it gets to stage four or five and you begin to have a feeling of nausea, which is the common one. You can wake up in the morning and feel like throwing up. But what often brings patients to us is when they notice that some parts of their body are swollen.
You could wake up in the morning and notice that your face, abdomen and legs are swollen. You may notice that you are not passing out urine like you used to. They are signs that the filter has failed. But earlier than that, a patient could go to bed at night and wake up three to four times to urinate; that’s an early sign of chronic renal failure. Other signs are foaming urine; that tells you that there is protein in the urine. Another one is blood in the urine. Of course you should run to the doctor when you see that and it can get really bad.
We’ve had patients who are admitted in psychiatric wards or thought to be mentally ill but when they are tested, you will find out that it’s CKD. It can make a patient to have convulsion or even go into a coma. Those are very serious signs of renal failures. It can also make a patient vomit blood or even have blood in stool. There could also be difficulty in breathing; some cough out blood too.
Generally, it is said that about 10 per cent of Nigerians have CKD. Looking at a typical hospital setting where I work, on a daily basis, we see a minimum of two fresh indigent patients with CKD. At least on a daily basis, we admit two CKD patients requiring either dialysis or kidney transplant. If I have ten patients with CKD, only about two would be able to afford to begin dialysis. And out of those two, maybe only one of them can continue to do dialysis after three months. So it tells you that only one out of ten patients can continue dialysis after three months, so we have a big problem.
The majority of those with CKD die, not because there is no treatment but because of lack of fund. If you tell a patient they need N30,000 for dialysis treatment and will require three in a week; that is N90,000 weekly for life. It’s like telling them to go home and die. They often say discharge me. They go home and we don’t know what happens to them. They go for herbal medicine as an alternative; they will go for anything they think will cure them. Another common thing people do is to visit prayer houses. They ask for doctor’s report and take it to the prayer house because what you have offered them is not accessible.