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Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is characterized by the gradual loss of kidney function over time. The kidneys are the body’s blood-filtering organs, removing waste from the blood and sending it to be excreted from the body. When the kidneys aren’t functioning properly, waste builds up in the blood and can cause high blood pressure, anemia, malnutrition, and nerve damage. An estimated 26 million American adults—more than one in ten—have been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. Incidence rates of CKD have jumped nearly 6 percent in the last 3 decades. Early detection is key to proper treatment for chronic kidney disease. If left untreated, chronic kidney disease can lead to kidney failure, necessitating a kidney transplant and/or causing death.
Approximately 60% of chronic kidney disease cases are caused by one or both of the following conditions:
Individuals with malformed kidneys or certain kidney-related illnesses such as polycystic kidney disease (in which cysts form in the kidneys) can give individuals a pre-disposition to develop CKD.
The following factors can influence the risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD):
In making a chronic kidney disease (CKD) diagnosis, your doctor will most likely use a combination of the following tests:
Chronic kidney disease often has no symptoms, especially during the early stages of the disease.
The following are symptoms of chronic kidney disease:
The prognosis for chronic kidney disease depends largely on when the disease is detected. Survival rates for CKD are approximately 90% at one year after the diagnosis. This number decreases to 65-75% at five years after the diagnosis, and 35-45% 10 years after the diagnosis.
The following steps can help you manage living with chronic kidney disease:
Keep a healthy, balanced diet low in fat, cholesterol, sodium, and potassium. This will help maintain a healthy body weight and prevent CKD risk factors such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Exercise regularly. Regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve overall health. Remember to always stay within the limitations of your body.
Take all prescribed medications including supplements. If you feel you should not be taking a medication, talk to your doctor about it first. Stopping a medication without first consulting your doctor can have a negative effect.
Though CKD may not be specifically screened for at a doctor’s visit, tests performed by the doctor at a typical visit, such as blood pressure, blood sugar, and urine analysis, can help determine your risk of CKD and detect early stages of the disease. Visit your doctor regularly to best monitor yourself for CKD.
The following steps can help you prevent CKD:
Keep a healthy diet. A balanced, healthy diet low in cholesterol can help you maintain a healthy body weight, cholesterol level, and blood pressure. It can also help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.
Visit the doctor regularly to monitor for early warning signs of CKD such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Drink plenty of water. Chronic dehydration can put added stress on the kidneys. Women need on average 2.7 liters of water per day while men may require around 3.7 liters per day. However, be careful not to drink too much water. Excess fluids, especially for someone at-risk for CKD or in early stages of CKD, can put added stress on the kidneys.
Exercise. Regular exercise can help maintain a healthy body weight and protect against CKD risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Unfortunately, there are no approved treatments to reverse damage to the kidneys once it has been done. Treatment for chronic kidney disease (CKD) focuses primarily on the maintenance of kidney health and the prevention of disease progression.
Medications that your doctor may prescribe to prevent the worsening of CKD include:
High blood pressure medication, including:
For more information on high blood pressure treatment and medication, visit the High Blood Pressure/Hypertension condition center.
Diabetes-management medications to help manage blood sugar levels, including:
For more information on diabetes treatment and medication, visit the Diabetes condition center [NOTE: hyperlink to Diabetes condition center]
Phosphate inhibitors, to regulate blood phosphate levels.
Nutritional supplements such as:
In addition to medication, your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes. These include:
The following treatments may be effective in the treatment of CKD:
**Warning: patients with CKD are not recommended to take herbal supplements. Herbal supplements are largely unregulated by the FDA and often contain minerals such as phosphorous that can be harmful to the kidneys. Consult a doctor and use your discretion before taking herbal supplements for CKD.
If you experience any of the symptoms of chronic kidney disease or if your symptoms worsen, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
If you are taking medications and experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
** Call emergency services. These may be signs of a heart attack.
You may want to ask your doctor the following questions:
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