Chronic Kidney Disease: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Chronic kidney disease is a slow and progressive loss of kidney function over a period of several years. Eventually, a person will develop permanent kidney failure. It often goes undetected and undiagnosed until the disease is well advanced.

It is not unusual for people to realize they have chronic kidney failure only when their kidney function is down to 25 percent of normal. As kidney failure advances and the organ’s function is severely impaired, dangerous levels of waste and fluid can rapidly build up in the body. Treatment is aimed at stopping or slowing down the progression of the disease – this is usually done by controlling its underlying cause.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) refers to all 5 stages of kidney damage, from very mild damage in Stage 1 to complete kidney failure in Stage 5. The stages of kidney disease are based on how well the kidneys can do their job – to filter waste and extra fluid out of the blood.

The number of patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and the subsequent need for renal replacement therapy (RRT) has reached epidemic proportion and is anticipated to rise further. Worldwide, it is estimated that over 1.1 million patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) currently require maintenance dialysis, and this number is increasing at a rate of 7% per year. If the trend continues, the number will exceed 2 million by 2010.

How does Chronic Kidney Disease affect your body?

Kidney disease damages your kidneys, preventing them from cleaning your blood as well as they should. This damage can cause wastes to build up in your body and lead to other health problems, including heart disease, anaemia and bone disease.

What are the Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease?

The two main causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure, which are responsible for up to two-thirds of the cases.

Other possible causes are:

  • Glomerulonephritis, a group of diseases that cause inflammation and damage to the kidney’s filtering units. These disorders are the third most common type of kidney disease.
  • Inherited diseases, such as polycystic kidney disease, which causes large cysts to form in the kidneys and damage the surrounding tissue.
  • Malformations that occur as a baby develops in its mother’s womb. For example, a narrowing may occur that prevents normal outflow of urine and causes urine to flow back up to the kidney. This causes infections and may damage the kidneys.
  • Lupus and other diseases that affect the body’s immune system.
  • Obstructions caused by problems like kidney stones, tumours or an enlarged prostate gland in men.
  • Repeated urinary infections.

What are the Risk Factors of Chronic Kidney Disease?

Common risk factors include :

  • Heart (cardiovascular) disease
  • Having a family member who had kidney disease
  • Being African-American, Asian, Native American or Hispanic
  • Being over age 60

What are the symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease?

Symptoms in the early stages of CKD: There don’t tend to be any symptoms of kidney disease when it’s at an early stage. This is because the body is usually able to cope with a significant reduction in kidney function. Kidney disease is often only diagnosed at this stage after a routine test, such as a blood or urine test, detects a possible problem. If it’s picked up at this stage, you may only need medication and regular tests to monitor it. This can help stop it becoming more advanced.

Symptoms in the later stages of CKD: A number of symptoms can develop if kidney disease isn’t picked up early on or it gets worse despite treatment. Symptoms can include:

  • weight loss and poor appetite
  • swollen ankles, feet or hands – as a result of water retention (oedema)
  • shortness of breath
  • tiredness
  • blood in your urine
  • an increased need to pee – particularly at night
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • itchy skin
  • muscle cramps
  • feeling sick
  • headaches
  • erectile dysfunction in men

How is Chronic Kidney Disease diagnosed?

To diagnose chronic kidney disease, the doctor may do the following:

Calculate your Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR), which is the best way to tell how much kidney function you have. You do not need to have another test to know your GFR. Your doctor can calculate it from your blood creatinine, your age, race, gender and other factors. Your GFR tells your doctor your stage of kidney disease and helps the doctor plan your treatment.

Perform an ultrasound or CT scan to get a picture of your kidneys and urinary tract. This tells your doctor whether your kidneys are too large or too small, whether you have a problem like a kidney stone or tumor and whether there are any problems in the structure of your kidneys and urinary tract.

Perform a kidney biopsy, which is done in some cases to check for a specific type of kidney disease, see how much kidney damage has occurred and help plan treatment. To do a biopsy, the doctor removes small pieces of kidney tissue and looks at them under a microscope

How to prevent & control Chronic Kidney Disease?

  • Follow a low-salt, low-fat diet
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes on most days of the week
  • Have regular check-ups with your doctor
  • Do not smoke or use tobacco
  • Limit alcohol

Treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease Allopathic Treatment –

High blood pressure medications – People with kidney disease may experience worsening high blood pressure. Your doctor may recommend medications to lower your blood pressure — commonly angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers — and to preserve kidney function. High blood pressure medications can initially decrease kidney function and change electrolyte levels, so you may need frequent blood tests to monitor your condition. Your doctor will likely also recommend a water pill (diuretic) and a low-salt diet.

Medications to lower cholesterol levels– Your doctor may recommend medications called statins to lower your cholesterol. People with chronic kidney disease often experience high levels of bad cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart disease.

Medications to treat anaemia – In certain situations, your doctor may recommend supplements of the hormone erythropoietin (uh-rith-roe-POI-uh-tin), sometimes with added iron. Erythropoietin supplements aid in production of more red blood cells, which may relieve fatigue and weakness associated with anemia.

Medications to relieve swelling – People with chronic kidney disease may retain fluids. This can lead to swelling in the legs, as well as high blood pressure. Medications called diuretics can help maintain the balance of fluids in your body.

Medications to protect your bones – Your doctor may prescribe calcium and vitamin D supplements to prevent weak bones and lower your risk of fracture. You may also take medication known as a phosphate binder to lower the amount of phosphate in your blood, and protect your blood vessels from damage by calcium deposits (calcification).

Treatment for end-stage kidney disease – If your kidneys can’t keep up with waste and fluid clearance on their own and you develop complete or near-complete kidney failure, you have end-stage kidney disease. At that point, you need dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Dialysis – Dialysis artificially removes waste products and extra fluid from your blood when your kidneys can no longer do this. In hemodialysis, a machine filters waste and excess fluids from your blood. In peritoneal dialysis, a thin tube (catheter) inserted into your abdomen fills your abdominal cavity with a dialysis solution that absorbs waste and excess fluids. After a period of time, the dialysis solution drains from your body, carrying the waste with it.

Kidney transplant – A kidney transplant involves surgically placing a healthy kidney from a donor into your body. Transplanted kidneys can come from deceased or living donors. You’ll need to take medications for the rest of your life to keep your body from rejecting the new organ. You don’t need to be on dialysis to have a kidney transplant

Treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease Homoeopathic Treatment

Common medications used are :

  • Apis mellifica
  • Arsenicum
  • Aurum muriaticum
  • Cantharjs
  • Belladona
  • Conavallaria

Chronic Kidney Disease – Lifestyle Tips

  • Stop smoking if you smoke
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Restrict your salt intake to less than 6g (0.2oz) a day
  • Do regular exercise – aim to do at least 150 minutes a week
  • Moderate your alcohol intake so it’s within the recommended limits of no more than 14 alcohol units a week
  • Lose weight if you’re overweight or obese
  • Avoid over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, except when advised to by a medical professional – these medicines can harm your kidneys if you have kidney disease

What are Recommended Exercises for Person with Chronic Kidney Disease?

At least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week is recommended.

Chronic Kidney Disease & Pregnancy – Things to know

Having a chronic kidney disorder before becoming pregnant increases the risk that the fetus will not grow as much as expected or be stillborn. Having a severe kidney disorder usually prevents women from carrying a baby to term.

In pregnant women who have a kidney disorder, kidney function and blood pressure are monitored closely, as is growth of the fetus. If the kidney disorder is severe, women may need to be hospitalized after 28 weeks of pregnancy so that bed rest is guaranteed, blood pressure can be controlled well, and the fetus can be monitored closely.

Women who have had a kidney transplant are usually able to safely give birth to healthy babies if they have all of the following:

A transplant that has been in place for 2 or more years

Normal kidney function

No episodes of rejection

Normal blood pressure

Women who have a kidney disorder that regularly requires hemodialysis are often at high risk of pregnancy complications, including miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, and preeclampsia. But because of advances in dialysis treatment, up to 90% of babies born to these women survive.

Common Complications Related to Chronic Kidney Disease

Common complications include :

  • Gout
  • Anemia
  • Bone disease and high phosphorus (hyperphosphatemia)
  • Heart disease
  • High potassium (hyperkalemia)
  • Fluid buildup ..  Edema

Other FAQs about CKD

Does CKD go away?

Chronic kidney disease usually does not go away. Kidney disease can be treated. The earlier you know you have it, the better your chances of receiving effective treatment.

Can you die from chronic kidney disease?

People with stage 4 kidney disease have a high risk of having heart disease. In fact, most people with kidney disease do not die of kidney failure – they die of heart disease

Is Ginger good for CKD patients?

Although garlic and ginger can neither prevent or cure Kidney Disease, they can still benefit CKD and dialysis patients in very significant ways. In the case of ginger, its benefits against indigestion and nausea can help dialysis patients when they are experiencing these symptoms

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