Chronic Kidney DiseaseChronic Kidney Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Types, Stages and Treatments

What is Chronic Renal Kidney Disease?

Chronic kidney disease, also known as chronic renal failure, is a slow progressive loss of kidney function over time. This disease is more common than one realizes and goes often undetected or undiagnosed until it is advanced and kidney failure is threatening. It is not unusual for people to recognize the presence of this disease until kidney function drops to 25% of its use. If chronic kidney failure ends in end-stage kidney disease, the patient will not survive a dialysis or transplant.

What are the Symptoms for Chronic Renal Kidney Injury?

Signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease develop over time if kidney damage progresses slowly. These may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue/weakness
  • Sleep problems
  • Urinate change
  • Muscle twitches and cramps
  • Swelling of feet, hands, or ankles
  • Persistent itching
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath (fluid build around heart lining)
  • High blood pressure

Signs and symptoms of kidney disease are nonspecific and can be caused by other illnesses or conditions. Because kidneys are highly malleable and able to compensate for lost function, signs and symptoms may not appear until reversible damage occurs.

What is the Cause of Chronic Renal Kidney Failure?

Any condition or disease that damages blood vessels in other structures within the kidneys can lead to kidney disease. These most common structures include:

  • Diabetes: High blood sugar levels caused by diabetes damage blood vessels in the kidneys. If the blood sugar content remains high over time, the damage gradually reduces all essential function of the kidneys.
  • High blood pressure: Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause damage to the blood vessels, which in turn irritates the kidneys. Blood pressure often rises with chronic kidney disease, so high blood pressure may further damage kidney function.

Other conditions that can cause chronic kidney disease include:

  • Kidney diseases and infections, polycystic kidney disease, pyelonephritis, glomerulonephritis
  • Having a narrowed or blocked renal artery which is known for carrying blood to the kidneys
  • Long-term use of medicines that can damage the kidneys such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (celecoxib, ibuprofen, antibiotics)

What are the Stages of Chronic Kidney Disease?

  • Stage 1: A person with stage 1 CKD has kidney damage with glomerular filtration rate (GFR) at a normal or high level greater than 90mL/min. Usually, one recognizes the beginning stage of this disease when tested for high blood pressure or diabetes because of the kidney’s ability to work even when functioning at less than 100 percent.
  • Stage 2: A person with stage 2 CKD has kidney damage with a mild decrease in the GFR of 60-89 mL/min. However, there are no obvious symptoms to indicate that the kidneys are damaged.
  • Stage 3: A person with stage 3 chronic kidney disease has moderate kidney damage. This stage is broken up in two: 3A and 3B with a decrease in GFR from 45-59 and 30-44mL/min, respectively. As kidneys start decaying, waste products build up in the blood causing a condition named uremia. These patients have a more likely chance to develop high blood pressure, anemia, and/or early bone disease.
  • Stage 4: A person with stage 4 CKD has advanced kidney damage with a sever decrease in the GFR to 15-30mL/min. It is very likely that someone in this stage will need dialysis or a kidney transplant in the near future.
  • Stage 5: A person with stage 5 chronic kidney disease has end stage renal disease (ESRD) with a GFR of 15mL/min or less. At this stage the kidneys have lost nearly all of the ability to do their job effectively and a dialysis or kidney transplant will be needed to keep the patient alive.

What is the Treatment for Chronic Renal Kidney Failure?

Stage 1-2

  • Eat a healthy diet (low in saturated fat and cholesterol)
  • Healthy blood pressure
  • Stabilized blood sugar and/or diabetes
  • Regular doctor check-ups
  • Take medicines
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eliminate smoking

Stage 3

  • Blood pressure medicine
  • ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors
  • ARBs (angiotensin receptor blockers)
  • Regular exercise is crucial
  • Elimination of tobacco

Stage 4

  • Hemodialysis: A dialysis machine removes a small amount of the patient’s blood through a man-made membrane, called a dialyzer or an artificial kidney, in order to clean out toxins the kidney is no longer capable of removing.
  • Peritoneal Dialysis: PD is a needle-free treatment, unlike hemodialysis, and does not require a care partner to help assist during the treatment.
  • Kidney Transplant: Preferred method of treatment and does not require as many diet restrictions as hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

Stage 5

  • Dialysis: Dialysis artificially removes waste products and extra fluid from blood when kidneys are no longer capable. A hemodialysis machine filters waste and excess fluid from your blood and allows it to drain from your body.
  • Kidney Transplant: A kidney transplant involves a surgical procedure that involves placing a healthy kidney from a donor into your body. Transplanted kidneys can come from diseased or living donors. Medications will be needed for the rest of your life in order to keep your body from rejecting the new organ.

How do I Prevent Chronic Renal Kidney Failure?

Although prevention for chronic kidney failure does not have direct causes, there are several precautions one can take in order to lessen its risks according to the American Kidney Fund:

  • Follow a low-salt, low-fat diet
  • Exercise
  • Regular check-ups with doctor
  • No or limited use of tobacco
  • Limited use of alcohol

What Drugs are Used to Treat Chronic Renal Kidney Disease?

The following drugs and medications are used in the treatment of symptoms and complications of chronic kidney disease:

  • Erythropoietin therapy and iron replacement therapy for anemia
  • Medicines for electrolyte imbalances
  • Diuretics treating of fluid buildup
  • ACE inhibitors and ARBs if protein is present in urine or in cases of heart failure. Regular blood tests are required to make sure that medicines don’t raise potassium levels or make kidney function worse.

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