What is Chronic Kidney Disease?
Any disease which affects the kidneys and persists for 3 or more months is called chronic kidney disease.
How is Common Chronic Kidney Disease?
Chronic kidney disease is a major global health problem. Based on clinical studies, chronic kidney disease is estimated to be present in 11-13% of the world population. In the Pakistani population, the estimated burden of the disease is about the same.
Why is Chronic Kidney Disease Dangerous?
Chronic kidney disease is associated with increased risk of having a heart attack, stroke, heart failure and blockage of blood vessels in legs even in early stages of the disease. Patients suffering from this disease have a poor quality of life and lower survival. Patients suffering from this disease have low immunity and can easily catch infections. If not managed, this disease can progress to irreversible kidney failure requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant.
What Causes Chronic Kidney Disease?
There are many causes of chronic kidney disease. Most common causes are diabetes and high blood pressure. In addition, diseases causing inflammation in tiny filters of kidneys, kidney stones, genetic diseases, painkillers and some herbal medications can also result in chronic kidney disease.
Who is At The Risk of Developing Chronic Kidney Disease?
People with the long-standing history of uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension and those who use painkillers or herbal medications for a long time are at risk of developing this disease. In addition, old age, obesity, family history of kidney disease and recurrent stone disease are also risk factors for this problem.
What Are The Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease?
In the early stages of this disease, patients may not have any symptoms or may have non-specific symptoms. Other may present with symptoms like swelling around eyes especially in the morning, swollen feet, frothy urine, blood in urine, high blood pressure, flank pain and increased or decreased urination. Once the disease becomes really advanced, a patient may have fatigue, drowsiness, itching, swelling, shortness of breath, poor appetite, nausea, and vomiting. Patients with advanced kidney disease can become really sick and often need urgent treatment.
How Can Chronic kidney Disease Be Diagnosed Especially in The Early Stages When There are no Symptoms?
In the early stages, the disease can only be diagnosed through laboratory investigations. There are two tests which are used by doctors to diagnose chronic kidney disease i-e serum creatinine and urine test especially looking for protein or blood in the urine. Elevated serum creatinine above the laboratory’s reference range indicates low kidney function. Persistent blood or protein in the urine may also indicate damage to the filters in the kidneys. A kidney ultrasound is also often ordered to look at kidney size and shape and to look for the presence of stones especially if the patient has pain in flanks.
What Should I Do If I Am Suffering From Chronic Kidney Disease?
You should consult a nephrologist, a medical specialist to treat kidney diseases. You should ensure that your blood pressure and diabetes are well controlled if you are suffering from these problems. You should avoid any un-necessary painkiller or herbal medications. In addition, you should comply with your doctor’s plan of care and regularly follow up with your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe you a low protein diet and medications to lower protein excretion in your urine. This will help in slowing down or stopping the progression of your kidney disease. He may order additional tests including blood tests or biopsy (taking a piece of your kidney tissue) if he feels that this will help in diagnosing and treating the underlying cause of your kidney disease.
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Can Chronic Kidney Disease Be Cured?
As the name implies this is a chronic disease which requires long-term care and follows up. In some cases, the underlying cause can be found and treated. However, in most cases like in those with genetic diseases or kidney disease due to hypertension or diabetes, only disease progression can be slowed down or arrested with dietary, lifestyle modifications and medical treatment. Just like any other chronic disease, only early diagnosis, and management results in the best outcome.
How Can I Prevent Chronic Kidney Disease?
You can prevent this disease by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, eating a healthy diet and maintaining normal body weight. You should control your blood pressure and diabetes if you have these diseases. In addition, you should avoid smoking and should not take any un-necessary medications especially herbal medications without consulting your doctor.