Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a term used to describe the slow loss of kidney function in a person. Normal kidneys are able to filter wastes and extra fluids from the blood, which then get excreted in the urine. But due to chronic kidney disease this normal functionality is impaired, and when the disease progresses further, it can lead to the building up of dangerous levels of fluid, electrolytes and wastes in the body. When the level of kidney function falls below a certain level, it is called kidney failure.
Chronic Kidney Disease: Quick Facts
- Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of kidney disease.
- Kidney disease is likely to cause kidney failure in men more than in women.
- African Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, and American Indians are at increased risk.
- Kidney disease can develop at any age, but affects the elderly more. Around 50% of people aged 75 and above are estimated to have CKD.
- In the developing countries, around 1 million people die annually due to untreated kidney disease.
- Generally, kidney transplant success rates are very good, with around 85-90% success rate for deceased donor transplant and 90-95% rate for live donor transplant.
- Almost 8-10% of the adult population suffers from some type of kidney damage.
- There are five stages of kidney disease, stage 5 being the End-Stage-Renal-Disease (ESRD), also known as kidney failure.
Causes of Kidney Disease
There are a number of conditions and diseases that can lead to CKD, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, polycystic kidney disease, interstitial nephritis, family history, etc. Out of these, diabetes and high blood pressure are two main causes contributing to around 2/3rd of all CKD cases. Kidney disease can make a person develop various health complications including weak bones, anemia, nerve damage, and heart diseases and stroke. Most often these problems manifest very gradually and therefore, aren’t easily noticed. As a result, chronic kidney disease can get significantly worse before it can be diagnosed and treated. In many situations, this can lead to kidney failure in the patient which can prove to be fatal without dialysis or kidney transplant.
Some of the other, less prevalent causes of CKD are glomerulonephritis (inflammations) or pyelonephritis (infections). CKD can also be caused due to inherited conditions (such as polycystic disease), enlarged prostate, kidney stones, malformations in a baby when in the mother’s womb, tumors, frequent urinary infections, lupus and other diseases that affect body’s immune system.
Certain drugs like analgesics (pain-killers), if taken over a prolonged period of time, can also lead to kidney disease.
Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease usually doesn’t present any symptoms until it has advanced to a much later stage. In the advanced stages, kidney disease can cause:
- Fatigue, weakness, lethargy
- Pain during urination
- Foamy/Pink/Dark urine (blood in urine)
- Need to urinate more often
- Fluid retention leading to swelling of ankles, face, hands, abdomen, ankles, feet, eyes
- Increase in thirst
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Muscle cramps
- Dry, itchy skin
Diagnosis and Treatment
Chronic kidney disease can be diagnosed by means of certain tests and procedures such as:
Blood tests: These can include a blood creatinine test to determine the Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR), a blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test, a fasting blood glucose test and some other tests that check for the amount of waste products and electrolytes in the blood.
Click here to learn more about GFR and its correlation to Chronic Kidney Diease.
Urine tests: These are used to measure the amount of protein in urine (ideally none), by means of Urinalysis (UA) and a urine test for microalbumin.
Imaging tests: A renal ultrasound and/or angiogram may also be conducted by the doctor to check any obstructions to the kidney or reasons for restricted blood flow.
Kidney biopsy: This procedure may also be used by the doctor to find out the reason for kidney disease, particularly after a kidney transplant if there is the possibility of organ rejection. The biopsy process involves removing a sample of kidney tissue by inserting a thin, long needle through your skin and into the kidney.
Early screening of kidney disease is recommended to those who are suffering from high blood pressure or diabetes. Unless the disease has reached the advanced stages, it can be managed by means of medications and leading a healthy lifestyle.
In patients suffering from either diabetes or high blood pressure, it is crucial to control the sugar levels and blood pressure respectively, in order to prevent further damage to the kidneys. By properly assessing the extent of damage to the kidneys as well as the contributory factors, the doctor will create a comprehensive treatment plan.
With inputs from:
Kidney Stone and Kidney Stone Surgery
At times a small Calcium Crystal Stone forms inside the part of the Kidney where the Urine is collected. The stones cause pain while urinating. The problem increases when Calcium Crystal Stones falls into the Ureter, a tube that drains the fluid from the Kidneys in to the bladder. There the stones prevent Urine from coming out of the Kidneys and causes severe pain.
Kidney removes waste from the body and filters the Blood to make Urine. The same Urine flows from the kidney into the bladder through the Ureter, a thin tube that connects the two. The Bladder empties through the Urethra, a tube much wider than the Ureter.
Urine from the Kidney excrete a variety of minerals and chemicals, when sometimes these minerals and chemicals combine to form stones. With the passage of time, the stones grow in size, sometimes almost an inch in diameter or even larger.
How are they formed?
The reason isn’t exactly known, but usually changes in the acid-base balance (pH) of the urine and the concentration of minerals and chemicals within the urine are all factors that can signify the formation of a stone. Concentrated urine often occurs during an episode of dehydration, setting the stage for the beginning of stone formation. The consequences of that stone, when it is large enough to cause an obstruction, may occur weeks, months, or years later.
A Kidney stone can infect the Kidney with Pyelonephritis, an inflammation of the renal parenchyma, calyces, and pelvis that is commonly caused by bacterial infection that can spread to the urinary tract or travel through the bloodstream to the kidneys.
When kidney stones pass from the urine collection system into the ureter, they can act like a dam preventing easy flow of urine from the kidney into the bladder. This causes urine to back up, increasing pressure and swelling within the kidney.
Pain in the process
Pain from the Kidney and as the stone passes through the Ureter, the pain increases. Kidney Pain is also known as renal colic Stone can be excruciating and its intensity is similar to that of pain experienced during a child birth. The pain starts from the lower back and radiates to the front of abdomen and in males, it may cause testicular or scrotal pain. It makes the individual totally uncomfortable. Kidney Stone has side effects like Nausea, Vomiting and Sweating.
If not treated the intense pain would be continuous and the pain would considerably increase. Once the stone is in the Bladder, the obstruction is relieved.
Passing of the stone
Since a Urethra is much larger in size than the Ureter, passing of the stone is an easy thing. It passes easily while Urinating and most patients cannot tell when they have eliminated the stone from their bladder.
The severity of the pain does not depend on the size of the stone, but it rather depends on the amount of obstruction and Kidney swelling. Many a times, when Kidney stone passes through the urine’s, a small amount of blood is visible.
In next article we will understand the symptoms and kidney stone surgery.
WHY ARE KIDNEYS IMPORTANT ?
Your Kidneys are responsible for five critical body functions
- Keeps the blood clean through filtration of the waste products and elimination of excessive fluids from the body in the form of urine
- Maintains proper balance of fluid in the body
- Secretes a hormone called Erythropoietin, responsible for stimulating the production of RBC (Red Blood Cells) in the Bone Marrow
- Produces an Enzyme called Renin, which helps maintain the body Blood Pressure
- Converts Vitamin D to its most active form
EFFECTS OF MODERN LIFESTYLE ON KIDNEYS
There is a general notion that all Kidney Diseases are rare and untreatable. This is far from the truth and with the progress in Science and Technology, most of the noted diseases can now be treated but modern lifestyle of a majority of people still negatively impacts people’s health which includes damage to the Kidneys. It is therefore important for everyone to be responsible and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
For Kidneys especially, bigger the load, faster they deteriorate. In this article, we focus on some simple but effective ways that can help a person minimize the stress on their Kidneys.
First of all let us look at some factors that puts considerable stress on Kidneys,
PRIMARY RISK FOR KIDNEY DISEASES
- High Diabetes,
- High Blood Pressure,
SECONDARY RISK FOR KIDNEY DISEASES
- Heart Disease
- Autoimmune Diseases;
- Urinary Tract Infections
- and Systemic Infections
STAGES OF KIDNEY DAMAGE
Stage 1: Slight Kidney damage
Stage 2: Mild decrease in Kidney function
Stage 3: Moderate decrease in Kidney function
Stage 4: Severe decrease in Kidney function
Stage 5: End-stage Renal Disease
TIPS FOR HEALTHY KIDNEY
Be active and eat healthy: Weight control is an important factor to control the Kidney Disease. A healthy routine and active lifestyle helps control the weight. Several studies indicate that Kidney malfunctions and Obesity are inter-related and an overweight person has double the chances of developing Kidney problems. Regular exercising with proper diet not only keeps a person fit, but also act as a preventive measure against Kidney disease.
Control BP and Diabetes: Cases of Kidney diseases as a secondary illness are getting more and more evident, especially with the people suffering from Diabetes and Hypertension. Such people should be extra careful regarding their health and take steps to control their blood sugar level to keep the Kidney disease at bay.
Reduce the salt intake: Excessive salt in the diet effects the body blood pressure. An increased blood pressure would put excessive amount of strain on Kidneys resulting in various Kidney disease. Hence once should control the excessive amount of salt intake in the body.
Smoking and Tobacco: Chewing Tobacco deteriorates the Kidneys. People who smoke a lot have higher chances of Heart Diseases. Both the factors combined to contribute towards harming the Kidneys. A Tobacco users and smokers should cut down the intake and slowly quite the practice.
Regular Screenings: There is a need to encourage patients suffering from Diabetes and Hypertension to undergo a systematic CKD screenings at regular intervals. People with Diabetes and high Blood Pressure have high risk of developing a CKD. Get your Kidneys screened regularly and know the disease in early stages.
We celebrate World Kidney Day on every 2nd Thursday of March each year. This year we celebrated on 14th March 2013. Now it is obvious that why do we focus much more in saving our kidneys. What type of work the kidneys really do for us, why they are so important and why it is essential to take care of the kidneys. This article is all about the workings of our kidney. They are the waste disposal system of our body, which keeps on working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days of a year – that is without taking a single leave. When it takes a leave, our life comes to danger. Let’s explore why:
Continue reading “How Kidneys Work – The Vital Role of the Kidney in Human Beings”