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Kidney and Urologic Diseases

Chronic Kidney Disease: A Summary

Written by Dr. Vasantha K S.  

Image: Chronic Kidney Disease: A Summary

Kidneys are organs whose primary function is to filter waste and excess fluids from the blood. In chronic kidney disease, there is a gradual loss of function, and so, there is an accumulation of fluid and waste in the body. In very severe cases, the build-up can reach dangerous levels. But, initially, there are no to few symptoms felt by the patient. This is a bad thing as many do not realize they have a problem until kidney function has deteriorated to a great extent.

Signs and Symptoms

  1. Nausea and vomiting.
  2. Decreased appetite.
  3. Generalized fatigue.
  4. Sleep disturbance.
  5. Decreased urinary output.
  6. Dark urine.
  7. Blood in urine.
  8. Reduced mental clarity.
  9. Muscle cramps.
  10. Swelling of feet and hands.
  11. Puffy face.
  12. Persistent itching.
  13. Proteinuria.
  14. Increased frequency of urination at night.

Risk Factors

  • Diabetes.
  • Hypertension.
  • A family history of kidney diseases.
  • Age over 60 years.

Causes

  1. Long-standing uncontrolled diabetes.
  2. Kidney damage due to high blood pressure.
  3. Obstruction of urine flow due to a kidney stone, prostate enlargement or a tumor.
  4. Polycystic kidneys.
  5. Abuse of over-the-counter medications and illegal substances.
  6. Exposure to lead and other toxic chemicals.

Diagnosis

  • Blood test.
  • Urine test.
  • CT/MRI scan of kidneys.
  • Sometimes, a biopsy may be ordered.
  • GFR test (glomerular filtration rate).

Complication

In a span of 10 to 15 years, CKD can progress to kidney failure or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Usually, kidneys are highly adaptable organs and make up their loss of function by various compensatory mechanisms. That is the reason there are no obvious symptoms initially. Later, as they fail, there is a need for an artificial filtering process known as dialysis or in some cases, a renal transplant may be required for survival. In both cases, the chance of success is good.

While without treatment, the survival rate is only a few months, with recent advancements and treatment modalities, the life expectancy goes up to many years.

Treatment

There is no permanent cure for CKD, but the treatment focuses on making lifestyle changes.

  • Focus on controlling chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, if present.
  • Take a low sodium and low potassium diet.
  • Excercise regularly for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Maintain your BMI (body mass index) in the ideal range.
  • Quit smoking, if you do.
  • Limit alcohol intake.

For more information consult a chronic kidney disease specialist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/nephrologist/chronic-kidney-disease

Last reviewed at: 07.Sep.2018

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