- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
What Is Chronic Kidney Disease
Kidneys are Very Delicate Organs
For the young and healthy, health issues seem to be the least priority in life. Fair enough. But this does not mean that you can neglect your health. The best start to ensure good health is at least be familiar with your body organs and know how they work. One organ worth noting is the kidney, or rather the pair of kidneys. Do you know how to take good care of your kidneys? Let’s talk about chronic kidney disease or in short, CKD.
Before we do that, let us consider the many functions the kidneys perform to keep us healthy. These are the four main functions of the kidneys:
1. Filtering waste products from the bloodstream to be discharged out in the form of urine.
2. Controlling blood pressure by eliminating excess water in the form of urine, and by producing hormones.
3. Producing a hormone called erythropoietin (epo) which stimulates the bone marrow to create red blood cells.
4. Maintaining proper levels of various salts and chemicals in the bloodstream.
Do You Have Chronic Kidney Disease
Kidney diseases are quite common and harmful; and if not treated immediately may be life-threatening. However, kidney diseases are treatable. Do you know one out of ten adult persons in the world has some form of kidney damage? What is meant by “chronic kidney disease”? A person is said to be suffering from chronic kidney disease when he or she has a major decrease in kidney function or has an increase in excretion of albumin in the urine, also termed as “protein leak”. Protein leak happens when the kidneys “leak” abnormal quantity of protein from the blood into the urine. The main protein that leaks out is called albumin. Further complications may develop into high blood pressure, anaemia, heart and blood vessel disease.
What Causes Chronic Kidney Disease
About 10% of adults have some form of chronic kidney disease. The following are the most common causes of chronic kidney disease:
- Diabetes mellitus, or simply diabetes. It is a condition where the person has a high level of blood sugar. Most common symptoms are frequent urination, increased thirst and constant hunger.
- Hypertension or commonly referred to as high blood presuure. As a general rule of thumb, any reading above 140/90 mmHg is considered having hypertension.
- Glomerulonephritis or glomerular nephritis, or inflammatory diseases of the kidneys, usually affecting the small blood vessels in the kidneys.
- Infections of various types.
- Renal stone disease or commonly called kidney stones.
- Certain inherited diseases.
Signs And Symptoms Of Chronic Kidney Disease
Normally, most people are not aware that they have kidney problems until they undergo a medical examination. As such kidney diseases are considered silent diseases which may become silent killers.This means that patients usually discover the disease too late, after it manifests itself.
Depending on the type of kidney disease, patients may experience some of the following signs and symptoms:
- Discomfort or burning sensation when passing urine
- Passing blood in the urine
- Increase in the frequency of urinating, especially at night
- Experiencing back pain
- Swelling of the ankles
- Persistent puffiness around the eyes, especially in the morning
How To Detect Kidney Disease
Simple standard laboratory tests will be able to confirm whether you have any kidney problem. The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) recommends three simple tests to check for any kidney disease:
Blood pressure. High blood pressure or hypertension is the second most common cause of kidney disease. Hypertension may also be the result of kidney disease. A blood pressure of 140/90 or higher is considered having hypertension.
Urinalysis. The simple term is called urine tests for unusual high levels of protein and blood in the urine. Having protein in the urine is one of the earliest signs of kidney disease, especially in people with diabetes.
Glomerular filtration rate (GFR). Ordinarily called blood test for kidney disease. In simple term, this test shows how efficient the kidneys remove wastes from the blood. This is the most effective way to check how healthy your kidneys are. From the blood creatinine test, a GFR value of 60 or higher is healthy.
What Are The Consequences Of Undetected Chronic Kidney Disease
Undetected kidney disease may result in death. So please ensure that you have an annual check-up on your kidney condition. You should also be particularly wary of the signs and symptoms of kidney problems as discussed above. Should you discover any of the above signs and symptoms, you should seek medical advice without any delay.
The immediate consequence of undetected kidney disease is the risk of developing progressive loss of kidney function. This will ultimately result in kidney failure. When kidney failure occurred, there will be a need for dialysis treatment or even kidney transplantation. Dialysis treatment is both expensive in the long run and very inconvenient and time-consuming. The other consequence is the risk of premature death due to cardiovascular disease.
Are You In The High Risk Category
It goes without any doubt that if you take good care of your body, you will have less risk of getting sick. The three main pillars to support a healthy body are proper diet, regular exercise and a relaxed positive mental attitude or disposition. With proper diet, your body will receive healthy nutrition needed to sustain a healthy body. Regular exercise ensures keeping the physical body fit. And a relaxed positive disposition ensures a stress-free state of mind which helps the various body systems to function smoothly.
Do you belong to these high-risk categories? With the exception of the last two categories, you have a reasonable control over your life to prevent contracting any kidney disease.
The following are the high-risk candidates:
- Those with diabetes
- Those with hypertension
- Those who are obese
- Those who smoke
- Those over 50 years old
- Those with family history of diabetes, hypertension or kidney disease
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
"Prevention is better than cure." This is common sense. But usually most people conveniently ignore this axiom.
Take note of the following:
- Control your blood pressure
- Control your blood glucose and cholesterol
- If you smoke, stop smoking
- Have regular exercise
- Control your body weight
- Live a stress-free and happy life
Remember the three pillars of maintaining good health:
- Nutritious diet
- Regular exercise
- Positive mental attitude
I wish you good health and happiness. My three other articles are also about protecting your kidneys.
How To Protect Your Kidneys
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