Dubai: Kidney disease is a silent killer, similar to heart disease, and people should catch it earlier as the financial and emotional cost will not be as high, an internal specialist has advised.

“The kidneys are designed to take a lot of load, so about 20 per cent of the patients will not have any symptoms initially,” said Dr Babu Shersad, internal medicine specialist, and medical director of Amsa Renal Care at the Dubai Health Care City.

He advises a general check-up every year and a simple blood test for those over 40 years of age. “If you are overweight, that will add stress on your kidneys,” he said.

The tests recommended are: complete blood count; urea test, creatinine level and GFR. The first may detect abnormal calcium levels in the blood which is a sign of kidney problems.

The urine analysis may detect increased levels of protein and blood cells and that indicates early signs of kidney disease.

Creatinine is a waste product that kidneys filter out. Increased levels may again indicate a kidney disorder.

Glomerular filtration rate or GFR test shows how well the kidneys are working. It estimates how much blood passes through the glomeruli each minute. Glomeruli are the tiny filters in the kidneys that filter waste from the blood.

The specialist advises against eating junk food regularly or drinking fizzy drinks as they are high in salt and sugar. A heavy salt intake will shoot up the blood pressure and that will impact on the kidneys. The recommended daily intake of salt today is two or three grams, the doctor said.

The specialist said people working in the air-conditioned atmosphere do not drink enough water and dehydrate without knowing it, and that also affects the kidneys.

“People here drink 40 per cent less water than in other parts of the world and the body’s toxicity goes up,” said Partha Banerjee, CEO of Amsa, a stand-alone dialysis unit.

“Check for puffy eyes, swollen ankles, breathlessness and high BP,” he said. There are 12,000 patients in the UAE that need dialysis, he said.