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Chronic Kidney Disease

What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

Chronic kidney disease is a condition where the kidney loses its function gradually, over a period of several years.  It eventually leads to permanent kidney failure.

Chronic kidney disease is widespread and often goes undetected until it is well advanced. In several cases, it is diagnosed only when the kidney’s function is down to 25 percent of its normal. By then, the electrolytes, fluids, and wastes in the body would have already reached dangerous levels.

What causes Chronic Kidney Disease?

In most of the cases, progressive kidney damage is a side effect of chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. Apart from this, damage to the kidney, kidney infections, obstruction in the urinary tract and autoimmune disorders can also cause this condition.

People who smoke, are obese, have high cholesterol, use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or have a family history of kidney diseases are at a higher risk of chronic kidney disease.

What are the symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease?

Chronic kidney disease seldom shows symptoms until advanced stages. If one kidney fails, the other carries out the functions. So there is no discomfort to the patient.  The early signs of the condition, if at all they show, can easily be confused with other common illnesses.

So, people who are at risk of the condition should undergo screening periodically. Early detection can help prevent serious damage to the kidney.

Here are some of the early and advanced stage symptoms of the condition:

  • Nausea
  • Anemia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Edema
  • Itchy skin
  • Chest pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Decreased alertness
  • Muscle cramps and twitches
  • Numbness in limbs

How is Chronic Kidney Disease diagnosed?

Diagnosis procedure of chronic kidney disease involves:

Physical examination

Fluid accumulation in the lungs or heart of the patient indicates that he is suffering from progressive kidney failure. Doctors hear lungs and heart of the patient with a stethoscope to check if there is any fluid accumulation.

Lab tests

Results of blood tests, urine tests, kidney scans, kidney biopsy, chest X-ray and glomerular filtration rate reveal if the patient is suffering from chronic kidney disease.

What are the treatments for Chronic Kidney Disease?

Treatments for chronic kidney disease aim at stopping or slowing down the progression of the disease, managing the symptoms, and reducing the risk of complications.

  • Treatment for patients with this condition includes:
  • Medication to lower blood pressure
  • Supplements to increase red blood cells production
  • Diuretics to relieve swelling
  • Calcium and vitamin D supplements to protect bones
  • Antihistamines to alleviate symptoms of itching

At the advanced stages, dialysis may be required to remove waste products and excessive fluids from the blood.  When the functioning of kidney reaches lower than 10-15 percent of its normal capacity, a kidney transplant would be required.

Proper diet with low salt, potassium, and phosphate, and plenty of fruits and whole grains goes a long way in keeping the symptoms of the disease in check.

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