The main objective of our kidneys is to keep us healthy by filtering the waste and toxins from the blood with the help of tiny filters called nephrons. Over certain conditions, these nephrons begin to shut down. Consequently, the blood is not filtered well enough to keep the body healthy. Chronic kidney disease is a medical term that refers to this progressive loss of kidney function.
Chronic kidney disease, commonly called CKD, is usually an advanced stage that includes conditions that damage your kidney and decrease its filtering capacity. Over time kidney disease can also increase the risk of developing heart and blood vessel disease. Therefore, early detection and treatment of chronic kidney disease is advised.
Symptoms of CKD –
Most of the time, a person can lose 90% of the kidney function before experiencing any symptoms. With chronic kidney disease, the following complications and symptoms may be developed –
- High blood pressure
- Anaemia (low blood count)
- Weak bones
- Poor nutritional health
- Nerve damage
- Trouble concentrating
- Poor appetite
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle cramping at night
- Swelling around legs, feet, or ankles
- Puffiness around the eyes, especially in the morning
- Have dry and itchy skin
- Need to urinate more often, especially at night
- Chest pain, build-up of fluids around the lining of the heart
- Weight loss
Other illnesses can also cause these signs and symptoms of kidney disease.
Diagnosis of CKD –
The following tests are done to check the kidney functions –
1. Albumin to Creatine Ratio Urine Test
It helps to identify kidney disease that occurs as a complication of diabetes. A protein that shouldn’t be found in urine is Albumin, and identification implies a kidney function problem.
2. Blood Test for Creatinine
Creatinine is a waste product found in the blood. This test helps in the determination of too much creatine in the blood.
3. Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR)
The glomerular filtration rate depicts how well the kidneys are filtrating the blood. An accurate GFR is very challenging because it is a lengthy and complicated process. The standard estimation of GFR is done with a simple blood test that calculates the creatinine levels. Creatine levels can be affected by diet, muscle weight, malnutrition, and other chronic illness.
4. Renal DTPA Scan
A renal DTPA scan is a nuclear medicine exam that uses radioactive material or radioisotopes to measure the function of the kidney and to see how the left and right kidney work relatively. This test also allows us to identify and detect any sites of blockage. It takes approximately 1 hour to complete the scan. Also, it is advised to go through the test after 3 months.
CKD Stages and Their Treatment
CKD can be divided into the following 5 stages –
- Stage 1: It is where the eGFR is greater than 90 miles per minute. This is considered normal, but there are some signs of kidney damage on other tests. This damage can be blood or protein leak in urine and multiple cysts in the kidney.
- Stage 2: Here, the eGFR is between 60 to 90. There is mild damage with some signs of the kidney.
- Stage 3a: There is a mild to moderate reduction in kidney function; the eGFR is between 45 to 59 ml per minute.
- Stage 3B is a moderate to severe reduction in kidney function, and the eGFR is 32-40ml per minute.
- Stage 4: is when the eGFR is 15 to 29 ml per minute. It is a severe reduction in kidney function.
- Stage 5: is where the eGFR is less than 15 ml/min. A person suffering from stage 5 CKD is more likely to experience symptoms of kidney failure, and dialysis or a kidney transplant may be required.
Treatment of CKD –
Treatment for chronic kidney disease focuses on slowing down the progression of kidney damage. It is usually done by controlling the causes. But sometimes, even after taking measures to control the causes, it is not possible to prevent kidney damage from progressing. The end to this progression is fatal kidney failure. Thus, it is recommended to see a specialist who can help you with artificial filtrating called dialysis or a kidney transplant.
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Precautions to Prevent CKD –
It Is recommended to incorporate the following habits in your daily lifestyle to prevent CKD –
- If you are overweight, exercise regularly and try to lose weight.
- “Smoking is injurious to health” is a well-known fact, so stop smoking.
- Reduce the amount of salt in your diet to have a balanced blood pressure.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet.
- Drink about 2 litres of water or any fluid each day. This will help you get rid of urine infections.
- Avoid taking medications that can harm the kidney and increase blood pressure. Medicines like anti-inflammatory medicines, herbal medicines, and recreational drugs are a threat to kidneys.
- Go for regular blood pressure check-ups.
- Cholesterol levels should be checked.
- Blood tests should be done at least once a year to check eGFR.
Major Causes of CKD –
- Diabetes: Diabetes is one of the main causes of CKD. It can damage the blood vessels in your kidneys. Almost one out of 3 people having diabetes have CKD.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can also damage the blood lessons in your kidney and is the second leading cause of CKD. Almost one out of 5 adults with hypertension have CKD.
- Heart diseases: People with heart diseases are on the risk radar for CKD. However, researchers are working to understand the relationship between heart and kidney diseases.
- Glomerulonephritis: It is a group of diseases that cause inflammation and damage to nephrons.
- Inheritance: It is common to note that people can inherit this disease from their ancestors. Here, it is seen that large cysts are formed that damage the surrounding tissues.
- Autoimmune diseases: Lupus nephritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the small blood vessels that filter wastes in your kidney.
Other causes may include kidney stones, tumours, and repeated urinary infections.
It is fascinating to know that the chemical composition of sweat and urine is the same. Thus, many doctors claim that the Skin can act as a filtering unit in case of kidney failure. It helps regulate sodium balance and controls extracellular volume and blood pressure homeostasis.
CKD can occur at any age and is very common. Early detection can help reduce the risk of kidney failure. Also, it is advised to inculcate certain habits in your daily life to prevent CKD.