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Health Care Assistant (HCA) - Kelowna - 2024

This LibGuide is designed to introduce HCA students to the OC Library resources and services.

Kidney Disease

It is estimated that 1 in 10 British Columbians has some degree of kidney disease and End Stage Kidney Disease (EKDS). Two million Canadians are estimated to have chronic kidney disease. Many of these people are unaware of that they have the disease until discovered through a routine kidney blood tests or when it manifests itself with the onset of more serious health issues.

According to the Kidney Foundation of Canada kidney disease has a higher mortality rates than most forms of cancer. Kidney Disease (nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis ) ranks 11th in cause of death in Canada. 

Risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, family history, and children born with kidneys that did not develop properly.  People of indigenous, Asian, South Asian, Pacific Island/Caribbean, and Hispanic descent are at higher risk.

Over use of non-prescription (over-the-counter) medications, particularly painkillers can contribute to the development of kidney disease. In addition, the use other medications, toxins, pesticides and illegal drugs (heroin and cocaine) are also factors.   

Warning Signs and Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting

  • Loss of appetite

  • Shortness of breath

  • Leg cramps

  • Itching

  • Chest pain

  • Easy bruising

  • Swelling in ankles and legs

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea

  • Bad taste in the mouth

  • Restless legs

  • Forgetfulness

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Cold intolerance

  • Skin colour changes

  • Decreased sexual desire

A physician can order a blood test to determine a patients kidney function level.

Kidney Disease is complex health condition. The field is comprised of a number of sub-categories of kidney disease the result of various causes.

Contributing factors include:

  • Diabetes

  • Heart disease

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

  • Bacterial and Viral Infections 

  • Genetic Conditions  Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) of which there are two types. Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) and Autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD).

  • Medication that can potentially damage the kidneys (Heavy or long-term use of some of these medicines, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and higher dose aspirin, can cause chronic kidney disease known as chronic interstitial nephritis

  • Initial treatment if detected early enough is to treat the disease via life style changes (diet, exercise, etc.) and medications. Dietary changes involve adoption of the Kidney Diet.

  • Dialysis can provide on going  treatment for persons with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) or End Stage Kidney Disease (ESKD). There are three types 

  • The only current long-term treatment for End Stage Kidney Disease is a kidney transplant.

Acute kidney injury (AKI) is the sudden loss of kidney function. Kidneys clean waste products from the blood and maintain fluid levels in the body.

Starfruit (Averrhoa carambola) is a tropical fruit commonly grown in southern China, India, and the Philippines (cultures with higher known rates of kidney disease) and is often consumed as a herbal remedy for various ailments in these regions/cultures. 

Starfruit is available in Canadian grocery stores.  

Research has determined that consuming starfruit can be harmful (toxic) for people who have kidney disease, as well as for some persons without kidney disease, who have consumed large amounts of starfruit in a short period of time, and who have a history of regular consumption of the fruit. The latter group of people have been known to develop Acute Kidney Injury (AKI), 

The neurotoxin in starfruit is called caramboxin

People with healthy, normally functioning kidneys can process and pass this caramboxin from their body. However, for those with kidney disease, this is not possible. The toxin accumulates in their body and can result in serious illness.

Symptoms associated with starfruit poisoning include:

  • Hiccups

  • Mental confusion

  • Seizures

  • Death (in serious cases)


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