Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic Kidney Disease is when kidneys get damaged over a long period of time and cannot perform their function properly, which causes waste to build up in the body and can lead to health problems.

Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease

The two main causes of CKD are high blood pressure and diabetes.

High Blood Pressure, or Hypertension, is a condition where blood pressure in the arteries is persistently high. This can lead to heart attacks, strokes and also CKD. Alternatively CKD can also cause High Blood Pressure.

Diabetes is a medical condition where the body is unable to process blood glucose. Glucose comes from the foods we eat, and if uncontrolled, can damage the kidneys and heart, as well as blood vessels, nerves and eyes.

Other causes that can lead to CKD are:

  • Glomerulonephritis – inflammation or diseases of the glomeruli (tiny filters within the kidney) that can damage the kidney and reduce its function
  • Hereditary diseases such as polycystic kidney disease
  • Malformations in the fetus during pregnancy
  • Diseases that affect the immune system
  • Kidney stones, tumors or enlarged prostate glands
  • Urinary infections

Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease

Early stages of CKD may not have any noticeable symptoms, because the kidneys can perform their functions well enough for us to feel any changes. The only way to check for early signs of CKD is by getting a simple blood and urine tests done.

In advanced stages of CKD, the following symptoms can occur:

  • Swelling (or edema) in the legs, ankles and feet
  • Exhaustion or tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Chest pains
  • Increased or decreased urination

Check for Kidney Disease

There are 2 tests that can be done to check for signs of Kidney Disease:

  1. Blood Creatinine Test – Creatinine is a waste product that comes from the use of muscles. The kidneys remove creatinine from the blood if they are functioning well. If creatinine in the blood is above the normal range, that may be a sign of kidney disease.
  2. Albumin urine test – Albumin is a protein that is in the blood. A healthy kidney does not let Albumin pass into the urine. If Albumin is present in the urine, that may be a sign of kidney disease.

If tests show that you might have Kidney Disease

If any lab tests indicate the presence of CKD, a nephrologist (kidney doctor) should be consulted to determine the best way forward. The nephrologist can recommend further lab tests such as an ultrasound, CT scan, or a kidney biopsy, and can determine the best treatment depending on these tests

Facts About Kidney Disease

Some of the important facts about the Chronic Kidney Disease are as below :

  • Two simple tests can detect CKD: blood pressure, urine albumin and serum creatinine
  • Early detection can help prevent the progression of kidney disease to kidney failure
  • Hypertension causes CKD and CKD causes hypertension
  • Heart disease is the major cause of death for all people with CKD Persistent proteinuria (protein in the urine) means CKD is present
  • High risk groups include those with diabetes, hypertension and family history of kidney failure