Kidney disease is often referred to as a “silent killer” because a person may lose up to 90% of the kidney function before symptoms of kidney failure surface. The initial stages of kidney disease are asymptomatic and the kidney functions deteriorate progressively. When the slow progression of kidney disease finally leads to End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), the patients start experiencing symptoms.
What is Chronic Kidney Disease?
Chronic kidney disease is the loss of kidney function over the time of a few months or years. Each kidney is made of millions of tiny filters called nephrons. When these nephrons get damaged they stop working. If the kidney disease progresses and more amore nephrons get damaged, the left out nephrons become incapable to filter the blood completely. Gradually, the kidneys become inefficient and this leads to the buildup of waste products in the blood. This condition is called kidney failure.
Facts about Kidney Disease
Needless to say, kidney disease is a silent disease, and the initial stages of chronic kidney disease do not show any symptoms. Chronic kidney disease is progressive, but it can be treated. The progression of kidney disease leads to kidney failure, and kidney failure affects the entire body and can make the person very sick. It is important to know that untreated kidney failure can be life-threatening.
What are the Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease?
The most common causes for kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. However, sometimes kidney disease may be inherited, such as polycystic kidney disease, and may sometimes be caused by infections or inflammation and due to longstanding of the urinary system caused by kidney stones or prostatitis. Painkillers or analgesics and antibiotics taken over a long period of time also cause chronic kidney disease.
Kidney Diseases are Harmful
Kidney diseases are harmful irrespective of age or gender. They are often causes of premature death. Many people die prematurely due to the complications caused by Chronic Kidney Disease. If Chronic Kidney Disease is not treated properly it leads to End Stage Renal Disease, and there are only two treatment options for kidney disease i.e., dialysis and kidney replacement.
As mentioned before, Chronic Kidney Disease causes a number of complications in the body including anemia, bone disease and cardiovascular disease. An individual with Chronic Kidney Disease can die prematurely from cardiovascular disease. It is worthy to note that most people with kidney failure do not die of kidney failure but because of the complications like heart attack caused by the condition.
The Measurement of Kidney Function
Creatinine is a waste product produced in the body by muscles and excreted by the kidneys. When the kidneys do not function properly, the blood levels of creatinine rise, so a blood test to measure the level of creatinine is done to measure the functioning of the kidneys. From the measurement of the blood creatinine levels, another indicator known as the Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) is estimated. It measures the rate of filtration of the kidneys and helps determine the percentage of kidney function that is left.
How is CKD Treated?
If Chronic Kidney Disease is detected early, the progression of the disease can be controlled and the risk of associated heart disease minimized. Proper diet and medications will help maintain the chemical balances in the body that the kidneys normally maintain. Blood pressure rises in patients with kidney disease. So, it is important to control blood pressure through medication and also treat proteinuria, if there is leakage of protein into the urine. Timely treatment can help prevent the progression of the kidney disease and the complications associated with it.