Doctors warn that young people in their 20s are increasingly becoming prone to kidney ailments, not only due to unhealthy diets, smoking and drinking but a new threat - downing protein supplements without proper advice.
"Excessive consumption of protein can have unwanted side effects on the kidney. Since kidney disease often goes undiagnosed, one should not take additional protein supplements without proper consultation. But many skip this, which leads to chronic kidney disease," Ravi Bansal, senior consultant in PSRI hospital, told IANS.
Nephrologists warn that high doses of protein powder over a long period of time causes stress on kidneys.
"Kidneys process and break down proteins. An excessively increased amount of protein intake causes the organ to work harder to compensate. Overuse of protein powders can lead to developing kidney stones and kidney failure," Ajay Choudhary, nephrologist, told IANS.
He said that in India about 40 percent of youngsters suffer from hypertension, obesity or diabetes or are smokers - all of which lead to kidney stones, infection and diabetic kidney disease. Many add to their health condition by taking protein supplements without proper advice, which could be dangerous.
"Many young men take protein supplements like protein shakes, protein pills, anabolic steroids as it gives them biceps, six packs in a short duration. But this leads gradually to kidney failure. Many don't realise this. Kidney disease hardly shows any symptoms until it has progressed to such an extent that dialysis remains the only option," Harsha Jauhari, chairman, renal surgery, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told IANS.
Besides this, advanced kidney damage - up to 70 percent - leads to impotency.
"Kidney disease will result in a buildup of waste products in the body, thus affecting sperm quality and fertility. People with minor problems need not worry. Only if the kidney is damaged beyond 60 percent. Just because a person has kidney disease does not mean a man will not able to father a child; even after transplants, many are normal," Bansal said.
Doctors say anybody with diabetes, hypertension and obesity as well as smokers and those above 50 years and with a family history of such diseases are at risk of kidney disease. Those who frequently urinate in the night, have joint disorders or swelling in the feet and face should also get screened once in six months.
"Simple routine tests of urine, blood and blood pressure can show up early signs of kidney problems. Youngsters should take protein supplements only after prior advice," Bansal added.
The National Kidney Foundation of India estimates that 100 people in a million suffer from kidney ailments in the country and around 90,000 kidney transplants are required annually in India.