Chronic Kidney Disease Basic

Kidneys that function properly are critical for maintaining good health, however, more than one in seven American adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease (CKD). 

CKD is a condition in which the kidneys are damaged and cannot filter blood as well as they should. Because of this, excess fluid and waste from blood remain in the body and may cause other health problems, such as heart disease and stroke. 

Some other health consequences of CKD include: 

  • Anemia or low number of red blood cells

  • Increased occurrence of infections

  • Low calcium levels, high potassium levels, and high phosphorus levels in the blood

  • Loss of appetite or eating less

  • Depression or lower quality of life
     

CKD has varying levels of seriousness. It usually gets worse over time though treatment has been shown to slow progression. If left untreated, CKD can progress to kidney failure and early cardiovascular disease. When the kidneys stop working, dialysis or kidney transplant is needed for survival. Kidney failure treated with dialysis or kidney transplant is called end-stage renal disease (ESRD). 

Not all patients with kidney disease progress to kidney failure. To help prevent CKD and lower the risk for kidney failure, control risk factors for CKD, get tested yearly, make lifestyle changes, take medicine as needed, and see your health care team regularly.

Risk Factors


Talk to your doctor about getting tested if you have any of there risk factors:
 

  • Diabetes

  • High blood pressure

  • Heart disease

  • Family history of CKD

  • Obesity

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease develop over time if kidney damage progress slowly. Loss of kidney function can cause a buildup of fluid or body waste or electrolyte problems. Depending on how severe it is, loss of kidney function can cause:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Loss of appetite

  • Fatigue and weakness

  • Sleep problems

  • Urinating more or less

  • Decreased mental sharpness

  • Muscle cramps

  • Swelling of feet and ankles

  • Dry, itchy skin

  • High blood pressure (hypertension) that's difficult to control

  • Shortness of breath, if fluid builds up in the lungs

  • Chest pain, if fluid builds up around the lining of the heart


​Signs and symptoms of kidney disease are often nonspecific. This means they can also be causes by other illness. Because your kidneys are able to make up for lost function, you might not develop signs and symptoms until irreversible damage has occurred. 

Prevention

To reduce your risk of developing kidney disease:

 

  • Follow instructions on over-the-counter medications: When using non prescription pain relievers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), follow the instructions on the package. Taking too many pain relievers for a long time could lead to kidney damage.
     

  • Maintain a healthy weight: If you're at a healthy weight, maintain it by being physically active most days of the week. If you need to lose weight, talk with your doctor about strategies for healthy weight loss.
     

  • Don't smoke: Cigarette smoking can damage your kidneys and make existing kidney damage worse. If you're a smoker, talk to your doctor about strategies for quitting. Support groups, counseling and medications can all help you to stop.
     

  • Manage your medical conditions with your doctor's help: If you have diseases or conditions that increase your risk of kidney disease, work with your doctor to control them. Ask your doctor about tests to look for signs of kidney damage.

Consult a doctor for medical advice or visit us at PEOPLE CARE INSTITUTE for more information

 

Note: The information you see here is general and describes what usually happens with a medical condition, but doesn't apply to everyone. This information IS NOT  a substitute for professional medical advice, so please make sure to contact a healthcare provider if you have a medical problem.