What is Chronic Kidney Disease?
Chronic kidney disease is a medical condition which happens within a long period of time in the kidneys. This leads to failure of the kidney to work effectively. Usually, this medical condition presents with no symptoms until the disease is in an advanced stage. In its earlier stages, it can be detected using blood and urine tests. It can give rise to symptoms such as tiredness, swollen ankles, feet or hands (due to water retention), shortness of breath, nausea and blood in the urine.
In its earlier stages, people with chronic kidney disease may have no symptoms because our bodies are made to tolerate even large kidney deficiencies. The condition is first diagnosed through a routine blood or urine test. People with kidney disease need to be monitored regularly with blood tests so that treatment may be given and symptoms are relieved.
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If the earlier stages of the disease are not prevented, the kidneys will continue to lose function and they will progress towards kidney failure. The progress can be tracked by blood tests and monitoring tests. Kidney failure usually gives rise to symptoms such as weight loss, poor appetite, swollen arms and legs, shortness of breath, blood or protein in your urine, an increased need to urinate particularly at night, itchy skin, muscle cramps, high blood pressure (hypertension), nausea and erectile dysfunction in men or an inability to get or maintain an erection.
People who have a high risk for developing chronic kidney disease are those who have high blood pressure (hypertension), those who have diabetes and those who have a family history of chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease happens because the kidneys are involved in certain functions such as the maintenance of blood pressure, the maintenance of the correct levels of chemicals in your body which helps heart and muscles function properly, the production of a type of vitamin D that keeps bones healthy and the production of a substance called erythropoietin, which helps stimulate the production of red blood cells. If there is chronic kidney disease, the kidneys are not able to carry out these functions effectively in the long term. This is usually caused by long-term untreated diabetes and high blood pressure.
Chronic kidney disease usually affects people as they age. It is also more common in people from South Asia and among black people. This is because these people are more prone to develop hypertension and diabetes. One chronic kidney disease affects you, there is no cure although treatment may be given to slow down the progression of the disease and to prevent serious complications from occurring. These complications may include stroke or heart attacks. Chronic kidney disease may further progress to become established renal failure (ERF) or end-stage kidney disease. In this situation, the usual functions of the kidney stop working. Dialysis is the recommended treatment for this condition or kidney transplantation.
Chronic Kidney Disease May Evolve Within Decades: Study
A recent study has shown that the risk factors for chronic kidney disease are present and identifiable even about 30 years before it is diagnosed. This study is published in the upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). The findings suggest avenues for future research to determine whether certain early interventions can prevent future kidney disease. The researchers who preformed the study have identified 441 new cases of CKD among participants of the Framingham Heart Study, and they matched them with 882 controls who did not develop CKD. Those who ultimately developed CKD were 76% more likely to have had hypertension, 71% more likely to have been obese, and 43% more likely to have had higher triglycerides 30 years before CKD diagnosis. They were also 38% more likely to have had hypertension, 35% more likely to have had higher triglyceride levels, and nearly 3-times more likely to have had diabetes 20 years before CKD diagnosis. The more risk factors an individual had in the past, the more likely they were to develop CKD.
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