What is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a decrease in the kidneys’ ability to filter blood and is more common in those managing hypertension and diabetes. Kidneys are essential in clearing our bodies of waste products and eliminating excess water through production of urine. Increasing age, genetics, high blood pressure, and uncontrolled blood sugars are a few of the factors that can decrease kidney function over time. Certain blood and urine tests assess overall kidney function.
How is CKD diagnosed?
Patients with CKD are often asymptomatic until the condition is progressed to more severe stages. Therefore, those at higher risk or with symptoms will be diagnosed through blood and urine tests. The urine test looks for the presence of protein that is not expected with present with healthy, well-functioning kidneys. Blood tests look for high creatinine (a waste product from muscles) levels as well as the glomerular filtration rate (GFR). Normal GFR levels are greater than 100 mL/minute. CKD is divided into stages.
What are the risk factors for CKD?
- Tobacco use
- Close relative with kidney disease
- Chronic use of certain medicines, such as ibuprofen (NSAIDS)
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Age of over 60
- Chronic illness such as HIV or Hepatitis C
- What are the symptoms of CKD?
Most patients managing CKD will experience no noticeable symptoms. As CKD progresses, patients may notice feet and ankle swelling, high blood pressure, fatigue, decreased urination or muscle cramps.
How do I prevent further kidney damage?
- Work toward blood sugar and blood pressure control
- Quit smoking
- Incorporate exercise in your daily routine & strive for weight loss (if you are overweight)
- Avoid medicines that damage the kidneys such as NSAIDs or lithium
- Be sure to stay well hydrated
As decreasing kidney function is common as we age, it is important to obtain regular checkups to avoid progression of CKD. Many risk factors can be changed to support kidney health and prevent the onset and progression of CKD. If kidney function declined to a severe level, the patient may require dialysis therapy. Many individuals can maintain slightly decreased function throughout their life span. If you recognize that you are at higher risk for CKD or have already received a diagnosis of decreased kidney function, be sure to talk with her healthcare provider about ways to prevent progression and continue monitoring your kidney health. If you have any further questions, please contact your primary care provider, reach out to our office at Reid Family & Specialty Care -- or explore the Center for Disease Control website as listed below.