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Chronic Kidney Disease

  • Synopsis: Published: 2012-02-21 (Revised/Updated 2013-03-16) - Chronic kidney disease CKD includes a number of conditions that damage the kidneys and decrease their ability to keep a person healthy - Wendy Taormina-Weiss.
Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic Kidney Disease - (CKD) - The slow loss of kidney function over time. The main function of the kidneys is to remove wastes and excess water from the body. Chronic kidney disease slowly gets worse over time. In the early stages, there may be no symptoms. The loss of function usually takes months or years to occur. It may be so slow that symptoms do not appear until kidney function is less than one-tenth of normal.

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Quote: "High blood pressure and diabetes are the two main causes of CKD and are responsible for approximately two-thirds of people who experience chronic kidney disease"

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) includes a number of conditions that damage a person's kidneys, decreasing their ability to keep the person healthy.

People have two kidneys which are approximately the size of their fists. The primary job of kidneys it to filter out wastes and excess water from their blood and to produce urine. Kidneys also keep chemicals in a person's body in balance, make hormones, and assist in controlling their blood pressure.

A diagnosis of chronic kidney disease means a person's kidneys are damaged and do not have the ability to filter blood as they should. Damage to a person's kidneys means wastes may build up in their body, or cause additional health issues. High blood pressure and diabetes are the most common causes of CKD.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) includes a number of conditions that damage a person's kidneys, decreasing their ability to keep the person healthy. Should a person's kidney disease worsen, wastes may build up to high levels in their blood, making them feel ill. The person might develop complications that include:

Complications related to CKD can occur slowly over an extended period of time. CKD may be caused by high blood pressure, diabetes, or other forms of disorders. Early detection of chronic kidney disease and treatment often times has the potential to keep a person's CKD from worsening. When CKD progresses it may to lead to kidney failure, something that requires kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant in order to maintain the person's life.

Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

High blood pressure and diabetes are the two main causes of CKD and are responsible for approximately two-thirds of people who experience chronic kidney disease. 'Hypertension,' or high blood pressure, happens when the pressure of a person's blood against the walls of their blood vessels increases. If this condition remains uncontrolled or poorly controlled, hypertension may cause chronic kidney disease, strokes, and heart attacks. A cycle exists because CKD can also cause hypertension. Diabetes occurs when a person's blood sugar is too high. Diabetes causes damage to a number of the organs in a person's body, to include their heart, blood vessels, eyes, nerves, and their kidneys.

A number of additional conditions affect a person's kidneys. These conditions can include the following:

Urinary Infections: Repeated urinary infections can affect a person's kidneys.

Lupus:Lupus, as well as other diseases that affect a person's immune system, have the potential to affect a person's kidneys.

Obstructions:Obstructions may be caused by things such as tumors, kidney stones, or enlargement of the prostate gland in men.

Inherited Diseases: These diseases include polycystic kidney disease, something that causes large cysts to form in a person's kidneys and damage surrounding tissue.

Glomerulonephritis:These are a group of diseases which cause damage to and inflammation of a person's kidney filtering units. The diseases represent the third most common type of kidney disease.

Developmental Malformations:These malformations happen as a baby is developing in the womb. A narrowing might happen that prevents average outflow of urine, causing urine to flow back up to the person's kidney, for example, causing infections and potentially damaging their kidneys.

Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

The majority of people might not experience any symptoms that are severe until their kidney disease is advanced unfortunately. Most people may not have any severe symptoms until their kidney disease is advanced. However, you may notice that you:

The fact is anyone may experience chronic kidney disease at any point during their lives. Some people are more likely than others; however, to develop CKD. A person is at an increased risk for CKD if they:

  • Are older
  • Have diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have a family history of chronic kidney disease

Specific populations of people experience increased rates of high blood pressure (hypertension) or diabetes. These populations include Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Pacific Islanders, Asian Americans, and Native Americans. All of these populations are also at increased risk for chronic kidney disease.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Facts

  • Hypertension causes CKD, which causes hypertension
  • Heart disease is a major cause of death in persons with CKD
  • Protein in a person's urine (persistent proteinuria) means CKD is present
  • Early detection may help to prevent the progression of CKD to kidney failure
  • Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is the best estimate of a person's kidney function
  • Three tests - urine albumin, serum creatinine, and blood pressure, can detect CKD
  • 26 Million adult Americans have CKD, while millions of others experience an increased risk of CKD
  • People with hypertension, diabetes or who have a family history of kidney disease are at high risk of CKD

Knowledge is Power when Newly Diagnosed

A diagnosis of chronic kidney disease (CKD) may be very difficult and trying for everyone involved. Information can help everyone from the person who has been diagnosed to family members and friends. A person who is aware of what is to come, the things to watch out for, as well as the treatment options available to them should their kidneys fail is a person who has the knowledge to make decisions concerning their own health care.

A discussion with a doctor about pinpointing a person's diagnosis and assessing their kidney function, as well as planning treatment is important. Testing to determine the stage and type of kidney disease, as well as the size of the person's kidneys and the damage already done is equally important. After receipt of these results, a doctor will discuss a plan of action with the person.

People with CKD also experience an increased risk of developing heart issues. One of the first things to do after receiving a diagnosis of CKD is to gain control of additional health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and anemia. For people with diabetes monitoring blood sugar, taking medications as ordered, and following a specific diet are important.

The risk of developing CKD increases the longer a person has diabetes. Approximately one-third of people with diabetes will eventually develop chronic kidney disease. Diabetes is the single leading cause of kidney failure in America, accounting for nearly 45% of those who begin treatment for kidney failure every year.

People who have high blood pressure may find a doctor recommending they cut down on salt in their diet, lose weight, and take certain medication. Anemia may lead to heart damage and can be controlled by taking a hormone called, 'EPO,' as well as iron supplements. People with CKD should not smoke, and should pursue healthy cholesterol levels.

After a person has gained control of CKD and additional health issues, it is crucial for them to track their progress. Their glomerular filtration rate (GFR) needs to be checked on a regular basis to monitor the status of their CKD. The amount of protein in their urine must also be checked periodically in order to ensure their kidneys are doing their job. Nutritional testing may also be performed to make sure the person is receiving enough calories and protein to maintain their overall health. A doctor can refer the person to a dietitian who has the ability to plan meals with the goal of achieving the correct foods in the proper amounts.

Related Information:

  1. Kidney Cancer - Information on benign and malignant kidney cancer tumors plus related articles.
  2. Causes of Uric Acid Kidney Stones - If the kidneys fail to perform their function optimally, this uric acid remains in the blood to result in Gout or Kidney stones.
  3. Take Care of Your Kidneys - Although we tend to take our kidneys for granted, these important organs deserve a little consideration now and then. Often, we don't pay much attention to them until there is a problem. When a kidney malfunctions, you will definitely know it.


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