Know the basics
What is chronic renal failure?
Chronic renal failure, also called chronic kidney failure or chronic kidney disease, is a condition that describes the gradual loss of kidney function. The function of your kidneys is to filter wastes and excess fluids from your blood, which are then 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. In the early stages of chronic kidney disease, you may have few signs or symptoms. Chronic kidney disease may not become apparent until your kidney function is significantly impaired.
Treatment for chronic kidney disease focuses on slowing the progression of the kidney damage, usually by controlling the underlying cause. Chronic kidney disease can progress to end-stage kidney failure, which is fatal without artificial filtering (dialysis) or a kidney transplant.
How common is chronic renal failure?
Chronic kidney failure is an internationally recognized public health problem affecting 5–10% of the world population.
However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of chronic renal failure?
Signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease develop over time if kidney damage progresses slowly. Some common signs and symptoms of kidney disease may include:
- 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
Signs and symptoms of kidney disease are frequently nonspecific, meaning they can also be caused by other illnesses. Because your kidneys are highly adaptable and able to compensate for lost function, signs and symptoms may not appear until irreversible damage has occurred.
When should I see my doctor?
Early diagnosis and treatment can stop this condition from worsening and prevent another medical emergency, so talk to your doctor as soon as possible to prevent this serious condition.
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting 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 renal failure?
Actually the cause of chronic kidney disease isn’t always known. But any condition or disease that damages blood vessels or other structures in the kidneys can lead to kidney disease. These following causes of chronic kidney disease are considered as the most common ones, include
- Diabetes: High blood sugar levels are caused by diabetes damage blood vessels in the kidneys. If the blood sugar level remains high over many years, this damage gradually reduces the function of the kidneys.
- High blood pressure (hypertension): Uncontrolled high blood pressure damages blood vessels, which can lead to damage in the kidneys. And blood pressure often rises with chronic kidney disease, so high blood pressure may further damage kidney function even when another medical condition initially caused the disease.
Other conditions that can damage the kidneys and cause chronic kidney disease include:
- Kidney diseases and infections, such as polycystic kidney disease, pyelonephritis, glomerulonephritis, or a kidney problem you were born with.
- Having a narrowed or blocked renal artery. A renal artery carries blood to the kidneys.
- Long-term use of medicines that can damage the kidneys. Examples include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as celecoxib and ibuprofen, and certain antibiotics.
- Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common causes of chronic kidney disease that leads to kidney failure. Diabetes or high blood pressure may also speed up the progression of chronic kidney disease in someone who already has the disease.
What increases my risk for chronic renal failure?
You seem to have a higher risk of chronic renal failure, if you own some condition listed below:
- High blood pressure
- 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 renal failure diagnosed?
If your doctor suspects that you may experience this condition, the physical examination will be performed, and some tests will be ordered by your doctor. Some diagnostic testing may include the following:
- A blood creatinine test helps to estimate the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) by measuring the level of creatinine in your blood. The doctor can use the GFR to regularly check how well the kidneys are working and to stage your kidney disease.
- A blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test measures how much nitrogen from the waste product urea is in your blood. BUN level rises when the kidneys aren’t working well enough to remove urea from the blood.
- A fasting blood glucose test is done to measure your blood sugar. High blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the kidneys.
- Blood tests measure levels of waste products and electrolytes in your blood that should be removed by your kidneys.
- A blood test for parathyroid hormone (PTH) checks the level of PTH, which helps control calcium and phosphorus levels.
- Urinalysis (UA) and a urine test for microalbumin, or other urine tests, can measure protein in your urine. Normally there is little or no protein in urine.
If the kidneys don’t produce enough of the hormone erythropoietin needed to make red blood cells, anemia can develop. The following tests help monitor anemia:
- A complete blood count (CBC) measures the hematocrit and the hemoglobin level.
- A reticulocyte count shows how many red blood cells are being produced by the bone marrow.
- Iron studies show your level of iron, which is needed for erythropoietin to work the way it should.
- A serum ferritin test measures the protein that binds to iron in your body.
How is chronic renal failure treated?
The goal of treatment for chronic kidney disease is to prevent or slow further damage to your kidneys. Another condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure usually causes kidney disease, so it is important to identify and manage the condition that is causing your kidney disease. It is also important to prevent diseases and avoid situations that can cause kidney damage or make it worse.
One of the most important parts of treatment is to control the disease that is causing kidney damage. You and your doctor will create a plan to aggressively treat and manage your condition to help slow any more damage to your kidneys. If you have diabetes, it is important to control your blood sugar levels with diet, exercise, and medicines. If you have high blood pressure, it is also important to keep your blood pressure in your target range, for example less than 130/80.
You may be prescribed a blood pressure medicine, such as an ACE inhibitor or an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB). These medicines are used to reduce protein in the urine and help manage high blood pressure.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage chronic renal failure?
Following these useful tips may help you to avoid chronic renal failure:
- Follow a diet that is healthy for your kidneys
- Make exercise a routine part of your life
- Don’t use substances that can harm your kidneys, such as alcohol, any kind of tobacco, or illegal drugs.
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 renal failure. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-kidney-disease/home/ovc-20207456. Accessed February 10, 2017.
Chronic renal failure. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/tc/chronic-kidney-disease-treatment-overview#1. Accessed February 10, 2017.
Chronic renal failure. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronic_kidney_disease. Accessed February 10, 2017.
Review Date: February 11, 2017 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019