Chronic Kidney Disease

What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

The term chronic kidney disease refers to the slow loss of kidney function over time from environmental factors or as a side effect of diabetes and other diseases. High blood pressure, lupus, and kidney stone also lead to chronic kidney disease.

This disease is diagnosed through urine tests that reveal high levels of proteins, which is followed with blood tests and kidney function measurements to confirm the diagnosis.

What are the Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease?

The symptoms caused by this disease depend on the stage of function loss. Stage one and two often have no symptoms at all.

Symptoms include

  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Trouble eating and weight loss during to lack of appetite
  • Cramping, especially at night
  • Increased need to urinate
  • Concentration problems
  • Dark urine with a reddish tinge due to blood
  • Flank pain
  • Puffy eyes

Chronic Kidney Disease Causes

There are two primary causes of chronic kidney disease – high blood pressure and diabetes.

High blood pressure: When more blood is pushed through the blood vessels, they stretch to accommodate this extra flow. Over the long-term, this stretching can weaken the blood vessels and cause the buildup of scar tissue. If this occurs in the blood vessels in the kidneys, it can lead to chronic kidney disease.

Diabetes: High levels of glucose in the blood can cause the kidneys to work harder than they normally do. Over time, this takes its toll and causes damage to the kidneys, which will then not be able to filter waste products from the blood as effectively.

Although high blood pressure and diabetes are the primary causes of chronic kidney disease, they are not the only ones. Chronic kidney disease can also be triggered by other conditions, including obstructions in the urinary system, lupus, and glomerulonephritis.

How is Chronic Kidney Disease Treated?

Treatment options depend on the severity of the kidney damage.

Treatment includes

Aside from controlling the damage done by causes like lupus and diabetes, you’ll need to balance your blood levels of phosphate and iron. Taking diuretics can reduce the fluid build-up in the body.

Dialysis is necessary for the later stages of kidney disease to replace the filtering effect the organs no longer provide. Seeking treatment during the earliest stages of chronic kidney disease is the best way to slow down damage and delay the need for dialysis by years. In the final stage of this disease, only a kidney transplant can save a patient’s life.

Chronic Kidney Disease Prevention

With high blood pressure and diabetes being the leading risk factors for chronic kidney disease, the most effective preventative measures are those that also prevent these issues.

Quit Smoking

Nicotine raises blood pressure and therefore increases the risk of chronic kidney disease. See your doctor or pharmacist if you are having trouble quitting.

Reduce Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol consumption increases blood pressure and also increases the work that the kidneys have to do.

Lose Weight

If you are overweight or obese, taking steps to lose weight can greatly reduce your risk of chronic kidney disease.

Eat a Healthy Diet

This can improve both your blood pressure and your risk of diabetes.

Reduce Salt Consumption

Excessive salt in the diet has been linked to high blood pressure.

Exercise

Physical exercise is effective in both reducing your blood pressure and reducing your risk of diabetes. The level of exercise you do needs to be appropriate for your age and physical condition – your doctor can advise you further.

Resources
Last Reviewed:
September 18, 2016
Last Updated:
December 06, 2017