Awareness: Surge of Kidney Failure in Nigeria

Once upon a time, in the bustling city of Lagos, I encountered a young man named Lagbaja (not a real name) who came to my clinic with a troubling complaint. He was experiencing fatigue, swelling in his legs, and other related symptoms. As a medical doctor, I knew these symptoms could indicate kidney failure, but what surprised me was Lagbaja’s age—he was only 28 years old.

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As I delved deeper into Lagbaja’s medical history, I discovered that he had been consuming a popular herbal concoction regularly, believing it to boost his energy and overall health. Little did he know that some herbal remedies can contain harmful substances that can damage the kidneys over time.

But Lagbaja’s case was not unique. In recent years, there has been a concerning trend of kidney failure among young people in Nigeria, and several factors contribute to this alarming increase.

Firstly, smoking and alcohol consumption among the youth are on the rise. These habits not only increase the risk of hypertension and diabetes, but they also directly damage the kidneys, leading to renal failure at a young age.

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Moreover, the prevalence of diabetes and hypertension, known as the silent killers, is also on the rise among young adults in Nigeria. These conditions put immense pressure on the kidneys, eventually leading to their failure if left unmanaged.

Additionally, the use of non-prescription medications, or “Naija aids” as they are colloquially known, poses a significant threat to kidney health. These medications are often taken without proper medical supervision and can have adverse effects on renal function.

As a medical professional, it is disheartening to witness the increasing number of young people succumbing to kidney failure, a disease that was once predominantly seen in older individuals. It serves as a stark reminder of the importance of education, awareness, and preventive measures in safeguarding kidney health.

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To address this growing crisis, we must prioritize public health campaigns aimed at promoting healthy lifestyle choices, raising awareness about the dangers of smoking, alcohol consumption, and herbal remedies, and providing access to affordable healthcare services for early detection and management of chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension.

As for Lagbaja, with proper medical intervention, lifestyle modifications, and regular monitoring, we were able to slow down the progression of his kidney disease and improve his quality of life. His story serves as a testament to the power of early intervention and the importance of taking proactive steps to protect our kidney health, regardless of age.

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