The kidneys are responsible for removing waste from the body, controlling blood pressure, and producing red blood cells. Damaged kidneys are unable to perform these functions, and this usually leads to different kinds of health complications. Any abnormality in the kidney functioning is known as kidney disease. If it is a condition that is not likely to improve, it is known as Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). CKD can lead to conditions like anemia, high blood pressure (and having high blood pressure can also lead to CKD), blood vessel disease, heart disease, weak bones, and total kidney failure, in which case, dialysis or a transplant is required. However, if detected early, it can be controlled by proper medications and a proper diet.
Chances of Getting CKD
Your chances of getting CKD are high if you have diabetes, high blood pressure/hypertension, family history of kidney disease, are in a higher age group, or belong to the African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander and American Indian population group. These population groups seem to have a genetic predisposition for diabetes or high blood pressure. Being overweight can also lead to the problem.
CKD can be caused due to any of the following reasons:
- Hereditary Predisposition
- Birth Malformation
- High Blood Pressure
- Kidney Stones
- Enlarged Prostate Gland
- Urinary Infections
The symptoms often go undetected in the earlier stage. You should consider going for a check up if you have a family history of CKD, and if you find yourself
- feeling tired more quickly and more frequently
- having less energy than usual
- having trouble concentrating
- suffering from insomnia
- having a poor appetite
- suffering from muscle cramps
- suffering from dry, itchy skin
- having swollen feet and ankles
- suffering from swellings on the face
- needing to urinate more frequently than usual.
There are several different ways of testing. The simplest test is to run a check for protein in the urine. Normally, the kidneys filter protein, and this is reabsorbed by the body. But, with damaged or improperly functioning kidneys, the protein is not reabsorbed, and is found in high levels in the urine. Another commonly done test is a blood test for Creatinine. Creatinine, which is produced in the body due to muscle activity, is usually removed as a waste product by the kidneys. If it has not been removed and shows up in high levels in the blood, then obviously the kidneys are not functioning as they should, and there is something wrong. Using the Serum Creatinine test, doctors find out the Glomerular Filter Rate (GFR), which tells them about how well or how badly the kidneys are functioning.
Many times, an ultrasound or CT scan is done to check the current state of the kidneys and the urinary tract. This can show if there is there is any malformation or if there are any obstructions like kidney stones. The doctors may suggest a biopsy, where a small piece of kidney is removed and checked under a microscope. This can tell the exact type of disease, how much damage has been done, and the kind of treatment that should be followed. Another test is a cystoscopy, where a flexible tube is used to look inside the bladder.
These are some important steps that you could follow.
- Lower your high blood pressure. Reducing the blood pressure slows the rate of the GFR decline
- Take medication or follow a prescribed diet to control anemia
- Control glucose and blood lipids
- Stop smoking
- Increase physical activity
- Control body weight. If you are overweight, it's important to reduce your weight.
- Follow a healthy and balanced diet
- Drink 2 liters of liquid every day
- Lower your triglyceride and cholesterol levels.