What Is Chronic Kidney Disease?

Aug 8, 2023

Millions of people worldwide are affected by the common and potentially deadly health condition known as chronic kidney disease.

Since CKD is a degenerative condition, it can cause a severe decline in kidney function over time, which impairs the kidneys' capacity to filter waste materials and extra fluid from the blood. 

What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

Chronic kidney disease, often referred to as chronic renal disease, is a long-term kidney condition that causes decreased kidney function over a period of months or years.

The five stages of CKD severity are stage 1, stage 2, stage 3, stage 4, stage 5, and end-stage renal disease (ESRD), where the kidneys have nearly completely lost their ability to function.

Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease 

  1. Diabetes: Uncontrolled high blood sugar levels can harm kidney blood vessels and develop diabetic nephropathy, a frequent cause of chronic kidney disease (CKD).
  2. Hypertension: The blood arteries in the kidneys may get strained by high blood pressure ranges, which can impair kidney function.
  3. Glomerulonephritis: CKD may result from glomeruli, the kidney's filtering cells, becoming inflamed.
  4. Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD): A hereditary disorder in which the kidneys develop cysts that gradually worsen renal function.
  5. Autoimmune Diseases: Medical conditions such as IgA nephropathy and lupus can cause the immune system to attack the kidneys

Additionally, CKD can be aggravated by long-term use of specific drugs, frequent kidney infections, kidney stones, and blockages of the urinary tract.

Risk Factors for Chronic Kidney Disease

  • Due to the added stress that these illnesses have on the kidneys, those with Type 2 diabetes or hypertension are more likely to develop CKD.
  • Because renal function naturally declines with aging, CKD risk increases with age.
  • An individual's risk can be increased by having a family history of kidney illness, particularly Polycystic Kidney Disease or other genetic kidney disorders.
  • Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans, and African-Americans all have a higher propensity for CKD than other ethnic groups.
  • Due to the damaging effects of cigarettes on blood vessels and general renal health, smokers are more prone to develop CKD.
  • Obesity can lead to the onset of diabetes and hypertension, two conditions that pose serious risks for developing chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease's early stages often go unnoticed by symptoms. As the illness worsens, subsequent symptoms could surface:

  1. Fatigue and Weakness: Reduced kidney function can lead to anemia which results in feelings of fatigue and weakness.
  2. Swelling (Edema): Excess fluid and waste build-up in the body can lead to swelling in the ankles, feet, and hands.
  3. Changes in urination such as Increased or decreased urine, foamy or dark urine, and more frequent nighttime urination can be indicators of CKD.
  4. Accumulation of waste products in the blood can cause persistent itching, especially in the legs.
  5. Excess fluid in the lungs due to kidney dysfunction can lead to difficulty breathing.
  6. A build-up of waste products can cause nausea and vomiting, often accompanied by a loss of appetite.

Diagnosing Chronic Kidney Disease

  • A medical practitioner will conduct a physical examination and go through the patient's medical history, including any family history of kidney disease.
  • Kidney function can be evaluated using blood draw tests such as glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and creatinine measurements.
  • Protein or blood in the urine can be found during a urinalysis and may be signs of kidney damage.
  • The kidneys can be seen and any structural issues can be seen using ultrasound, CT scans, or MRIs.
  • To identify the underlying cause of CKD, a tiny sample of kidney tissue may occasionally be taken for analysis.

Treatment Options

Treatment Options

1. Medications

It is possible to be provided medications to treat underlying disorders causing CKD, manage blood pressure, and reduce protein loss in the urine.

2. Lifestyle Changes

Changes in lifestyle, such as eating a balanced diet, giving up smoking, controlling weight, and exercising frequently, might benefit kidney function.

3. Dialysis

Dialysis may be necessary to help filter waste and extra fluid from the blood artificially in people with advanced CKD or ESRD.

4. Kidney Transplant

In the right circumstances, replacing a failing kidney with a transplant from a living or deceased donor can serve as an effective medical alternative.

Preventive Measures

Methods of preventive medicine can help curb the effects of Chronic Kidney Disease

  1. Identification of risk factors and early detection of renal impairment are made possible by routine medical examinations.
  2. Having diabetes and high blood pressure under control can greatly lower the chance of getting CKD.
  3. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins and low in salt, saturated fats, and processed foods can help kidney function.
  4. Ample water consumption helps in the kidneys' efficient removal of waste and poisons.
  5. Avoid using excessive amounts of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), over-the-counter pain relievers, and other nephrotoxic chemicals.

Early identification, appropriate management, and lifestyle changes are necessary to decrease the progression of chronic kidney disease and enhance the quality of life for those who are affected. Effective CKD management requires regular communication with healthcare professionals and adherence to recommended therapies. Get in touch with a healthcare advisor of your choosing or contact Access Health Care Physicians to get connected at the earliest.

Frequently Asked Questions

High blood pressure can strain the kidneys' narrow blood channels over time, contributing to CKD.

Your kidneys are harmed and unable to filter blood as effectively as they should if you have chronic kidney disease (CKD). Because the damage to your kidneys occurs gradually over a lengthy period of time, the condition is referred to as "chronic".

While there's no cure for chronic kidney disease (CKD), treatments can help relieve the symptoms and prevent it from getting worse.