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Chronic kidney disease

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Chronic kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease is also known as kidney failure. When the kidneys slowly lose their functions, it is known as kidney failure. Kidneys are very important for human body as the filter wastes and the extra fluids from the blood. Such filtered materials are excreted in the urine. In case of kidney disease, the kidney is not able to perform its functions to the full extent. In the advanced stage of chronic kidney disease, fluids, wastes and electrolytes reach a dangerous level and start accumulating in the body.

The early stages of chronic kidney disease may show only a few signs and symptoms. It may not be visible until the functions of the kidneys is hampered to a greater extent.

The treatment used for chronic kidney disease puts emphasis on slowing the progression of the damage. It tries to control the underlying causes. When the chronic kidney disease progresses to the end stage, it causes kidney failure. Kidney failure is fatal without dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Symptoms of chronic kidney disease

There are several signs and symptoms shown by chronic kidney disease, which will help you to find out if you are suffering from it or not.
¢ Nausea
¢ Vomiting
¢ Loss of appetite
¢ Fatigue and weakness
¢ Sleep problems
¢ Changes in urine output
¢ Decreased mental sharpness
¢ Shortness of breath, if fluid builds up in the lungs
¢ Muscle twitches and cramps
¢ Hiccups
¢ Chest pain. It happens when fluid deposit around the lining of the heart
¢ Swelling of feet and ankles
¢ Persistent itching
¢ High blood pressure, which is difficult to control

However, these signs and symptoms are non-specific, which means they may show up due to some other illness. They may not appear till when the damage is irreversible.

If you have any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms, it is important to visit your doctor.

Causes

Chronic kidney disease shows up if a disease or medical condition interferes with the kidney functions and damage the kidneys over a duration of a few months. The diseases and medical conditions that can cause chronic kidney disease are-

¢ Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
¢ Glomerulonephritis. It's an inflammation of the kidney’s filtering units called glomeruli
¢ High blood pressure
¢ Interstitial nephritis, which is an inflammation of the kidney tubules and structures surrounding it
¢ Polycystic kidney disease
¢ Long duration obstruction of the urinary tract. Such obstruction can be caused by kidney stones, enlarged prostate and few types of cancers
¢ Vesicoureteral reflux. This is a condition in which urine backs up into your kidneys
¢ Recurrent kidney infection

Risk factors

There are several factors that may increase the risk of chronic kidney disease. Such factors include-
¢ Diabetes
¢ High blood pressure
¢ Heart disease
¢ Smoking
¢ Obesity
¢ High cholesterol
¢ Being African-American, Native American or Asian-American
¢ Family history of kidney disease
¢ Age 65 or older

Complications

Chronic kidney disease can cause several complications. It may affect any part of the body. Some of the major complications caused by chronic kidney disease are-

¢ Fluid retention. It may result in swelling of the arms and legs and fluid in the lungs, which is known as pulmonary edema. It may also cause high blood pressure.
¢ Different cardiovascular diseases, which will affect the heart and the blood vessels
¢ Weak bone and a higher risk of bone fractures
¢ Increase of potassium levels in the blood which is known as hyperkalemia. It may affect the heart and may be life-threatening.
¢ Anemia
¢ Reduced immune response and as a result of it you may become more prone to different infections.
¢ Reduced sex drive
¢ Impotence
¢ Damage of the central nervous system. Such damage can cause other severe problems like seizures, problem in concentration, personality changes etc.
¢ It may also cause pregnancy complications and may increase the risk of the mother and the child.
¢ It can result in damage to the kidneys, which are irreversible. It may force the patient to go for dialysis or even kidney transplant.
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