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.
March is Kidney Awareness Month, a good time to review signs and symptoms of kidney disorders.
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
• Unexplained fatigue
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.
For further information about kidney disease, dialysis and kidney transplantation visit http://www.childrensdmc.org/pediatric-nephrology.