Chronic kidney disease (CKD), or chronic kidney failure, is slow and progressive loss of kidney function over several years. Kidney disease is a term used by doctors to include any abnormality of the kidneys even if there is only very slight damage. Chronic means a condition that does not get completely better. CKD is a long-term condition where the kidneys do not work effectively. A person is said to have CKD if they have abnormalities of kidney function or structure present for more than three months. Signs and symptoms of CKD may include
- No symptoms initially
- Blood in urine
- Loss of appetite
- Decreased mental sharpness
- Muscle cramps
- Swelling of the feet
- Persistent itching
- Ammonia breath (breath smells foul like urine)
- Swollen ankles, feet, or hands (due to water retention)
- Moon face
- Severe increase in blood pressure
- Passing too much urine or no urine
- Difficulty breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
The risk of CKD is higher in people with diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, smoking, obesity, and a family history of kidney disease. Complications of CKD are evident as swelling of the arms and legs due to fluid retention; an increase in potassium levels in the blood; an increased risk of bone cancer, erectile dysfunction, nerve damage, difficulty concentrating; decreased immunity; pregnancy problems, and kidney damage.
What are the different stages of kidney disease?
There are five stages of kidney disease. The stage is determined by how much kidney function one still has. To estimate kidney function, doctors will perform several simple tests to find out glomerular filtration rate (GFR). GFR is a calculation the doctor will use to check if a patient has chronic kidney disease (CKD) and to determine the stage of the disease. Gender, age, weight and the results of a simple blood test are used to determine GFR.
- Acute kidney injury: It may start suddenly and may be reversible. It may occur due to injury, infections, medication side effects or sometimes pre-existing diseases.
- Chronic/severe kidney disease: It progresses slowly over at least three months and can lead to permanent kidney failure. It may be caused by various medical conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, hereditary kidney disease, etc. It usually does not exhibit any symptoms until it progresses to advanced stages.
- Stage 1: 90 percent of kidney function is usually preserved.
- Stage 2: 60 ti 89 percent of kidney function is preserved.
- Stage 3: Symptoms may include tiredness, puffiness, changes in appetite, dull back pain, and urine changes. Kidney functioning may be reduced to 40 to 59 percent. See a nephrologist to learn about treatments and lifestyle changes to prevent further damage.
- Stage 4: People experience fatigue, swelling, changes in appetite, back pain, changes in urine, hypertension and slowed digestion. Kidney function may be reduced to 15 to 29 percent (severe kidney disease). Learn how to protect remaining kidney function, prepare for dialysis or find out more about a kidney transplant.
- Stage 5: It is end-stage kidney failure. The kidneys are only functioning at 10 to 15 percent. Dialysis or a kidney transplant is necessary to prolong life.
What are the treatment options for kidney disease?
There is no cure for chronic kidney disease (CKD), although treatment can slow or halt progression of the disease and prevent development of other serious conditions. Treatment of CKD depends on the stage and results of blood tests and other associated ailments. It includes
- Treatment of high blood pressure (take prescribed medicines, restrict salt, lose weight and perform regular exercise)
- Controlling blood sugar if diabetes is present (diet, regular exercise and diabetic medications)
- Treatment of anemia (iron supplements and erythropoietin stimulation agents)
- Treatment of mineral and bone disorders (to correct calcium, phosphorus, and parathyroid hormone levels with diet restrictions and medications)
- Control cholesterol levels with diet and medications
- Regular exercise
- Follow a diet program with low purine and low protein content
If a person has kidney failure (glomerular filtration rate [GFR] less than 15 mL/min/1.73 m2), they may require initiation of dialysis based on their symptoms and GFR. A kidney transplant is also an option.
When a person is diagnosed with CKD and confronted with the scope of all restrictions and treatments that now become necessary, they probably will feel like their ailment is the end of the world. However, there is still hope. Lifestyle changes can likely slow down disease progression significantly. Being diagnosed with CKD can be anxiety-producing, but support and advice are available to help patients cope. Kidney transplantation is an excellent option for those who are eligible for it.
United States. CDC. "Chronic Kidney Disease Basics." Feb. 28, 2022. <https://www.cdc.gov/kidneydisease/basics.html>.
World Kidney Day. <https://www.worldkidneyday.org/facts/chronic-kidney-disease/>.
Top Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Related Articles
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Can Stage 1 Kidney Disease Be Cured?Stage 1 kidney disease causes mild damage to your kidneys. Kidney disease cannot be cured.
Can You Live a Normal Life After Donating a Kidney?Kidney donor surgery is considered a very low-risk surgery with few major complications. People who have donated a kidney can lead active and full lives.
Can You Live With Stage I Kidney Disease?Because you can halt further kidney damage with diet modification and supportive treatment, patients can live an extra 30 years following their stage I CKD diagnosis.
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Hypertension-Induced Chronic Kidney DiseaseHypertension-induced chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a long-standing kidney condition that develops over time due to persistent or uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension).
Is Plant Protein Good or Bad for Kidneys?Eating less meat and more vegetables has many health benefits. Plant protein may help lower your risk of kidney disease.
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Kidney (Renal) Failure
Kidney failure can occur from an acute event or a chronic condition or disease. Prerenal kidney failure is caused by blood loss, dehydration, or medication. Some of the renal causes of kidney failure include sepsis, medications, rhabdomyolysis, multiple myeloma, and acute glomerulonephritis.
Post renal causes of kidney failure include bladder obstruction, prostate problems, tumors, or kidney stones.Treatment options included diet, medications, or dialysis.
What Is the Relationship Between Diabetes and Kidney Disease?Diabetic kidney disease is caused by multiple factors, including changes in the kidneys caused by diabetes and hypertension-related vascular changes. Having high blood sugar levels can lead to kidney damage and failure. People with diabetes may already have hypertension when they are diagnosed. Because high blood pressure damages the kidneys, it increases the risk of diabetic kidney disease.
Signs of a Kidney DiseaseMost of the signs of kidney diseases are unnoticed, ignored, or appear very late in the disease. Over 37 million American adults have kidney diseases, and most are not aware of it.
What Are the 5 Stages of Chronic Kidney Disease?The doctor will take your complete medical history along with your family history, such as if anyone in your family has or had diabetes, whether you are on any medications (that can cause kidney damage), and so on. They will perform a thorough physical examination to see if you have any signs or symptoms of chronic kidney disease (CKD).
What Are the Most Common Kidney Diseases?The most common type of kidney disease is chronic kidney disease (CKD). Other diseases include acute kidney injury, stones, infections, cysts, and cancer.
What Does 3b Mean in Kidney Disease?In stage 3b kidney disease, eGFR is between 30-44 mL/min. Symptoms and signs may include back pain, swollen hands and feet, abnormal urination, hypertension, and anemia.
What Is the Best Kidney Disease Treatment?There is no cure for chronic kidney disease, but treatment can help relieve the symptoms and prevent them from worsening. Here are the five best treatments for kidney disease.