Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic Kidney Disease is the slow loss of kidney function over time. The main function of the kidneys is to remove wastes and excess water from the body. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) slowly gets worse over time. In the early stages, there may be no symptoms. The loss of function usually takes months or years to occur. It may be so slow that symptoms do not occur until kidney function is less than one-tenth of normal.
The final stage of Chronic Kidney Disease is called end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The kidneys no longer function and the patient needs dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Chronic Kidney Disease and ESRD affect more than 2 out of every 1,000 people in the United States.
Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two most common causes and account for most cases.
Many other diseases and conditions can damage the kidneys, including:
- Problems with the arteries leading to or inside the kidneys
- Birth defects of the kidneys (such as polycystic kidney disease)
- Some pain medications and other drugs
- Certain toxic chemicals
- Autoimmune disorders (such as systemic lupus erythematosus and scleroderma)
- Injury or trauma
- Kidney stones and infection
- Reflux nephropathy (in which the kidneys are damaged by the backward flow of urine into the kidneys)
- Other kidney diseases
Chronic Kidney Disease leads to a buildup of fluid and waste products in the body. This condition affects most body systems and functions, including red blood cell production, blood pressure control, and vitamin D and bone health.
Controlling blood pressure is the key to delaying further kidney damage.
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) are used most often.
- The goal is to keep blood pressure at or below 130/80 mmHg.
Other tips for protecting the kidneys and preventing heart disease and stroke:
- Do not smoke.
- Eat meals that are low in fat and cholesterol.
- Get regular exercise (talk to your doctor or nurse before starting).
- Take drugs to lower your cholesterol, if necessary.
- Keep your blood sugar under control.
*Information from National Institutes of Health (NIH)