NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The International Diabetes Foundation reported that The Bahamas has almost 35,000 cases of people living with diabetes, which does not include those who are pre-diabetic.
According to Bahamian Nephrologist Dr. Adrian Sawyer, diabetes is also the biggest cause of kidney failure, leading some to receive dialysis several times of week.
Dr. Sawyer said many Bahamians are plagued with kidney failure because they are overweight or have been classified as obese.
“The second reason is high blood pressure. High blood pressure is common in this population. About two out of every four to five adults have high blood pressure. So those are the high-risk groups and that’s why we have high rates of kidney failure.”
Dr. Sawyer also noted that chronic kidney disease is usually symptomless. He said many persons have the impression that back pain usually indicates kidney disease He noted, however, that this only happens when a person has kidney stones as they are painful.
Dr. Sawyer said kidney disease that is advancing gives no symptoms until a person moves into the last stages and the symptoms, he said, are non-specific.
“You get loss of energy, loss of appetite, fatigue, you can’t do the things you used to do, and a lot of those symptoms are due to the fact that your blood count goes down. You may or may not have heart failure but sometimes you may get swelling of your extremities.”
Two dialysis patients who shared their experience on Thursday, said the process of receiving dialysis is not easy.
“The most painful experience on being on dialysis is having your arm pricked every time you come in for treatment because you know it’s actually the blood coming out of the body, to be cleansed and returning back into the body. More or less, that’s the most painful experience about it,” said an anonymous patient
“You know when you come to these places you get attached to people, so to see them pass away and leave you is a very painful experience because you get so close to them, they make you feel like they are a part of your family,” said Debbie Flowers.
If one wishes to prevent chronic kidney diseases, Dr. Sawyer advises that one should:
- Control their blood sugar if they have diabetes.
- Keep a healthy blood pressure.
- Follow a low-salt, low-fat diet.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
- Keep a healthy weight.
- Do not smoke or use tobacco.
- Limit alcohol.
This article was written by Matthew Moxey – Eyewitness News Online Intern