Chronic kidney disease also known as chronic renal disease, chronic renal failure or chronic kidney failure is a slow and progressive loss of kidney function over a couple of years. This disease affects many people yet majority of them are not aware since it takes time before it can be detected in the body.
Chronic kidney disease is usually a long term condition that is mainly linked to old age although it can be acquired by any person. It is not easy for an individual to realize that they are suffering from chronic kidney disease until when the kidney slows down or stops to function completely.
As the kidney becomes less functional, dangerous levels of fluids and toxic wastes may end up accumulating in the body. This leads to adverse health conditions like weak bones nerve damage, anemia, high blood pressure and even loss of appetite. Other diseases such as heart attack, diabetes and liver disease may also set in as a result of the chronic kidney disease hitting high levels.
When chronic kidney disease is detected during the early stages, it can be easily treated thus keeping a patient safe from the adverse effects that may occur. When the disease is left to progress beyond normal levels, a patient may be forced to have a dialysis or even a kidney transplant in order to continue living.
Causes of chronic kidney disease
There are two main causes of chronic kidney disease that are well known. These are high blood pressure and diabetes. Diabetes occurs when the blood sugar levels of a person is too high than that required by the body thus damaging important organs. These organs include the heart, nerves, kidneys, eyes, blood vessels and liver.
On the other hand, high blood pressure commonly known as hypertension occurs when one’s blood pressure against the walls of the vessels holding them is increased beyond the norm. If not properly handled, high blood pressure can cause stroke, heart attack and chronic kidney disease.
Other health conditions that may cause chronic kidney disease include:
- Urinary tract infections that constantly recur.
- Obstructions in the kidneys and ureter that are as a result of having conditions like tumors, kidney stones or an enlarged prostate gland in men.
- Any disease that may be affecting the immune system of the body e.g. Lupus.
- Family diseases that are easily inherited and passed on from one family member to another. A good example is the polycystic kidney disease.
- Glomerulonephritis, a disease known to cause inflammation and total damage of the filtering units located in the kidneys.
- Malformations that develop as a baby is still growing in its mother’s womb.
Signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease
Chronic kidney failure when compared to acute kidney failure is a disease that takes time before it can mature to a level that can be termed as life threatening. When one kidney stops operating effectively, the other remaining kidney can continue carrying out all the functions without any difficulty.
The symptoms cannot be witnessed in the early stages unless a urine or blood test is carried out on the patient. When the disease reaches a fairly advanced stage, the condition becomes severe and signs and symptoms start appearing on your body. At this stage, the damage done to your kidney may be irreversible.
People who are likely to get chronic kidney disease should have constant kidney checkups to prevent the condition from reaching adverse conditions. This is because when it is detected during the early stages, it can be easily treated before causing any serious damage to your kidney.
Some of the signs and symptoms of chronic kidney failure include:
- Dry and itchy skin
- Loss of appetite
- Exhaustion and weakness
- Cramping of muscles especially during the night
- Swelling of hands, ankles and feet
- Swelling around the eyes particularly during the morning hours
- Sleep disorder
- Blood in urine
- Decreased concentration or mental alertness
- High blood pressure
- Frequent urination especially during the night
- Difficulty in breathing
- Headache that cannot be explained
- Pain on the mid lower back or on your side
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle twitches
- In male, it may become difficult to get an erection
- Decreased output of urine
- Passing out urine that is dark
Treatment for chronic kidney disease
Up to date, there is no cure that has been discovered for curing chronic kidney failure. However, there are treatments that can be used to relieve the symptoms while at the same time stopping it from becoming worse. The treatment offered by a doctor will depend on the stage of your condition.
Some of the main treatments offered to patients suffering from chronic kidney disease include:
- Changes in lifestyle that will make sure you live a healthy life.
- A patient may also be given medication that controls any condition that may come up for example; one may get medication for high blood pressure or diabetes.
- In advanced chronic kidney disease, a patient may require a kidney transplant.
- Dialysis that is meant to replicate the functions carried out by the kidney.
How to prevent chronic kidney disease
Chronic kidney disease cannot be easily prevented. However, there are important steps that one can take to reduce the chances of acquiring this health condition.
Smoking increases the chances of getting cardiovascular disease such as stroke and heart attack. These diseases are closely linked with chronic kidney disease. Avoiding smoking will help in maintaining your health condition thus making it hard for you to get any cardiovascular disease.
Reduce alcohol intake
Drinking too much alcohol can increase your chances of getting high blood pressure and increasing the level of cholesterol in your body. One is advised to stick with the recommended limits so as to reduce the chances of getting these diseases.
Exercise regularly is one of the natural ways used in preventing many health disorders. Exercising on a regular basis will be helpful in lowering your blood pressure while at the same time protecting you from kidney diseases.