What is chronic kidney disease?
Chronic kidney disease (CKD), also called chronic kidney failure, describes the gradual loss of kidney function. Your kidneys filter wastes and excess fluids from your blood, which are excreted in your urine. When chronic kidney disease reaches an advanced stage, dangerous levels of fluid, electrolytes, and wastes can build up in your body.
How common is chronic kidney disease?
This health condition is extremely common. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of chronic kidney disease?
The common symptoms of chronic kidney disease are:
- Loss of appetite;
- Fatigue and weakness;
- Sleep problems;
- Changes in how much you urinate;
- Decreased mental sharpness;
- Muscle twitches and cramps;
- Swelling of feet and ankles;
- Persistent itching;
- Chest pain, if fluid builds up around the lining of the heart;
- Shortness of breath, if fluid builds up in the lungs;
- High blood pressure (hypertension) that’s difficult to control;
In the early stages of chronic kidney disease, signs, and symptoms of kidney disease are often nonspecific. Chronic kidney disease may not become apparent until your kidney function is significantly impaired.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes chronic kidney disease?
Chronic kidney disease occurs when a disease or condition impairs kidney function, worsen kidney over several months or years.
The final stage of CKD is called end-stage renal disease (ESRD). At this stage, the kidneys are no longer able to remove enough wastes and excess fluids from the body. At this point, you would need dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Diseases or conditions that cause chronic kidney disease include:
What increases my risk for chronic kidney disease?
There are many risk factors for chronic kidney disease, such as:
- High blood pressure (hypertension);
- Heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease;
- Being African-American, Native American or Asian-American;
- Family history of kidney disease;
- Abnormal kidney structure;
- Older age
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is chronic kidney disease diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask about your personal and family history whether you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, if you’ve taken a medication that might affect kidney function, if you’ve noticed changes in your urinary habits, and whether you have any family members who have kidney disease. Next, your doctor performs a physical exam, also check for signs of problems with your heart or blood vessels, and conducts a neurological exam.
For kidney disease diagnosis, you may also need certain tests and procedures, such as:
- Blood tests. Kidney function tests look for the level of waste products, such as creatinine and urea, in your blood.
- Urine tests. Analyzing a sample of your urine may reveal abnormalities that point to chronic kidney failure and help identify the cause of chronic kidney disease.
- Imaging tests. Your doctor may use ultrasound to assess your kidneys’ structure and size. Other imaging tests may be used in some cases.
- Removing a sample of kidney tissue for testing. Your doctor may recommend a kidney biopsy to remove a sample of kidney tissue. Kidney biopsy is often done with local anesthesia using a long, thin needle that’s inserted through your skin and into your kidney. The biopsy sample is sent to a lab for testing to help determine what’s causing your kidney problem.
How is chronic kidney disease treated?
Depending on the underlying cause, some types of kidney disease can be treated. Treatments may include:
- High blood pressure medications. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) are often used. The goal is to keep blood pressure at or below 130/80 mm Hg.
- Medications to lower cholesterol levels.Your doctor may recommend medications called statins to lower your cholesterol to prevent the risk of heart disease.
- Medications to treat anemia.In certain situations, your doctor may recommend supplements of the hormone with added iron.
- Medications to relieve swelling.People with chronic kidney disease may retain fluids, leading to swelling in the legs, as well as high blood pressure. Medications called diuretics can help maintain the balance of fluids in your body.
- Medications to protect your bones.Your doctor may prescribe calcium, vitamin D supplements, and phosphate binder.
- A lower protein diet to minimize waste products in your blood.As your body processes protein from foods, it creates waste products that your kidneys must filter from your blood. To reduce the amount of work your kidneys must do, your doctor may recommend eating less protein. He or she may also ask you to meet with a dietitian who can suggest ways lower your protein intake while still eating a healthy diet.
In case you have end-stage kidney disease. At that point, you need dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage chronic kidney disease?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with chronic kidney disease:
- Avoid products with added salt. Stay away from frozen dinners, canned soups, fast foods, salty snack foods, canned vegetables, processed meats, and cheeses.
- Choose lower potassium foods, including apples, cabbage, carrots, green beans, grapes, and strawberries.
- Limit the amount of protein you eat. High-protein foods include lean meats, eggs, milk, cheese, and beans. Low-protein foods include vegetables, fruits, bread, and cereals.
- Get regular exercise. Talk to your doctor or nurse before starting to exercise.
- Do not smoke.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Chronic kidney disease. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000471.htm. Accessed October 09, 2016.
Chronic kidney disease. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-kidney-disease/manage/ptc-20208364. Accessed October 09, 2016.
Review Date: November 4, 2016 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019