Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment
The human body is a complex machine, able to perform incredible functions at an unparalleled rate. Comprised of organs, big and small, each part has a specific role to play in everyday life. The kidneys are one such organ that is rarely thought about until a major problem, such as chronic kidney disease (CKD), has already occurred.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 30 million people will suffer from CKD. 48% of those with kidney disease, not on dialysis, have reduced kidney function. Often, patients have no idea they have the disease.
The Importance of Kidneys
The kidneys are the filtering unit of your body. When your kidneys are malfunctioning, toxins in your blood are not removed from your body the way they should. This can lead to severe medical issues.
Your body has two kidneys, one each on the either side of the spine located below the rib cage.
Kidneys help maintain and regulate chemicals in your body. Your kidneys are responsible for maintaining the levels of potassium, salt, and acid in your body. They also produce hormones, which helps other organs function normally. Hormones, produced by kidneys, help maintain your blood pressure. They also help regulate calcium metabolism. A hormone, regulated by the kidneys, assists in the production of red blood cells.
What is Chronic Kidney Disease?
Chronic kidney disease is usually caused by damage done over time. The most notable characteristic of the disease is the failure to filter blood, waste, or salt like a healthy kidney. CKD is also referred to as chronic renal failure.
Causes of CKD
From the infographic below, published originally by Kidney.Org, you can see that leading causes of CKD include: hypertension, diabetes and family history of kidney failure. A history of these conditions makes 1 in 3 Americans vulnerable to kidney disease.
Polycystic kidney disease – An inherited kidney condition characterized by cyst formation in the kidney that grows bigger with the passage of time. The cysts can cause kidney damage, as well as failure.
Glomerulonephritis – A condition in which the filtering units of the kidney’s known as glomeruli become inflamed.
Congenital – An anomaly of the kidneys that affect their function, from birth. This condition is most often inherited from a family history of kidney disease. Congenital kidney disease overwhelmingly affects infants and children.
Interstitial nephritis – A condition in which tubules of the kidney get inflamed, along with the adjoining structures.
Vesicoureteral reflux – A disease that sends urine back to the kidneys.
Kidney stones – An accumulation of dissolved minerals, such as calcium, from the inside of the kidneys. People with kidney stones have an elevated risk of developing kidney disease.
Urinary tract infection – An infection caused by exposure to bacteria. If left untreated or after multiple re-occurrences, urinary tract infections can lead to kidney disease.
Drugs and medications – Some over-the-counter pain relievers, when taken in large quantities, can damage your kidneys. Drugs like cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines can cause damage to the kidneys as well.
Symptoms of CKD:
Kidney disease often times has nonspecific symptoms. Meaning the chance for misdiagnosis or other underlying issues is high. Since the kidneys are adaptable, they perform as normal. The symptoms might not show up until after the disease is already present.
The more gradual the kidney damage, the slower symptoms develop.
- Loss of appetite, vomiting and/ or nausea
- Weakness, fatigue and/ or problem in sleeping
- Increase or decrease in the amount you urinate
- A dip in mental alertness
- Feet and ankle swelling
- Muscle cramps and/ or itching
- Persistent high blood pressure
- Shortness of breath and/ or chest pain
Organizations, like the National Kidney Foundation, are dedicated to raising awareness, and assisting in the prevention and treatment of kidney disease. The Florida chapter of the National Kidney Foundation offers a free screening program to assess your risk of kidney disease.
The Treatment Process
Some forms of kidney diseases are treatable, though there is no known cure of CKD. Patients are generally treated to slow down the progress of the ailment, reduce complications and control symptoms.
End stage renal disease treatment occurs when the kidneys are no longer able to remove wastes from your body.
First, your regular family practice doctor would treat the cause of your CKD, for which there are many treatment options. That being said, the damage to your kidney can continue after initial treatment.
Your primary doctor would then treat you for complications. This could include giving you medications to control your high blood pressure, your cholesterol levels and/or treating you for anemia. Also, your physician would provide medication used to prevent swelling, in case there is water retention in the body. They would track your vitamin D and calcium levels and give you medications to make your bones stronger. This assists in avoiding fractures.
Then, they would refer you to a dietitian who will manage your diet as well. Damaged kidneys have a difficult time filtering the waste products created by high amounts of protein. Transitioning to a low-protein diet means fewer waste products to remove from the blood.
End stage renal disease treatment – When you develop total or near total kidney failure your kidneys are not able to eliminate waste as they should on their own. At this point, CKD becomes end stage renal disease. Treatment includes dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Are You at Risk?
Things that can increase your risk of CKD include:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Old age
- History of kidney disease in the family
- Abnormal structure of the kidney
People of African-American, Asian-American or Native American origin are at increased risk.
When should you visit a doctor?
Visit direct primary care clinics if you have any of the symptoms of kidney disease.
If you have an ailment that increases your chances of developing kidney disease, doctors will keep an eye on your kidney function. Keeping tabs on blood pressure, as well as blood and urine tests, will help monitor your kidney health.
If you live in and around Lake Mary, Florida, contact MultiCARE DPC, experts in dealing with chronic conditions. They are willing and able to treat patients who have chronic kidney disease. MultiCARE DPC is a direct primary care facility where patients get comprehensive and compassionate medical care via telemedicine, same-day appointments, and greater access to doctors.