• Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)



    Chronic kidney disease (also known as CKD) is a gradual deterioration of the performance of the kidney (s). They do not usually give up all at once. There is usually a progression that takes a few years. Even though this is an awful condition to deal with, the good news is that if you catch it early enough, lifestyle changes can most times reverse the damage done. Here we will look at the levels of kidney disease, as well as some of the symptoms associated with this disease and some things you can do to protect your kidney health.

    The test that determines your kidney’s health seeks to discover your GFR Level. This stands for Glomerular Filtration Rate and it is a measure that indicates how well your kidneys are doing their main function, which is to clean your blood. The recommended treatment will depend on the stage of kidney disease you are experiencing.

    Here are the stages of chronic kidney disease you need to be aware of; People who have healthy kidneys have a GFR level of 90mL/min or higher. There are 5 stages of kidney disease with Stage 1 being a person who has some kidney damage despite their GFR Level being at 90mL/min or more. Stage 2 is where there has been a slight reduction in the GFR Level where it now ranges between 60 and 89 mL/min. Stage 3 shows a moderate lowering of the GFR Level to around 30 to 59 mL/min. At Stage 4 there is a severe reduction in the GFR Level and it now falls somewhere between 15 and 29 mL/min. Stage 5 is known as kidney failure where the GFR is less than 15mL/min. This patient will typically need a kidney transplant at this late stage.

    The symptoms of chronic kidney disease escalate as the disease progresses. In Stage 1 or 2 of CKD there are usually only a few symptoms such as high blood pressure, excessive amounts of creatinine or urea in the blood,family history of polycystic kidney disease, evidence of kidney damage seen from a CT scan, ultrasound, XRay or MRI, or blood or protein in the urine. When you have reached Stage 3 of CKD you will have anemia and may also have signs of early disease in your bones. At this stage you will probably need some form of treatment. At Stage 4 you are going to be prescribed dialysis treatment and maybe even a kidney transplant.

    The main function of your kidneys are to remove toxins from your blood. They produce red blood cells and help to keep your bones healthy too. In addition, they have an impact on your blood pressure. So what causes chronic kidney disease? Diabetes can cause it, hypertension (aka high blood pressure), inflammation or infection, and kidney stones to name a few. Alcohol abuse is another well documented cause of CKD as is extended use of pain killers.

    If your kidneys have been too severely damaged this is Stage 5 and is known as ESRD, end stage renal disease or more commonly called kidney failure. Diabetics and those with hypertension are those most likely to reach this critical stage.

    The National Kidney Foundation says that there are 3 categories of kidney disease; acute, chronic and the last being end-stage (ESRD). There is some good news among the bad. Acute kidney failure is reversible and usually only temporary. As we age we are more likely to experience chronic kidney failure but those who are most likely, such as diabetics for example should have regular checks on their kidney health to catch it before it becomes too severe. When your doctor finds a high level of creatinine in your blood this is a signal that your kidneys are malfunctioning, as this is a waste product that your kidneys normally remove from your blood.

    As mentioned above the Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) is the indicator used to determine total kidney function. The normal level is about 100 ml/min, but if yours drops below 60mL/min you may need to have a visit with a nephrologist to explore your treatment options. You may be advised to start on dialysis or, if you are at an extremely low level a kidney transplant may be your best option.

    Some things that you can do to avoid having to deal with chronic kidney disease have to do with your diet and lifestyle. These things are important for everyone, but particularly so for those in the high-risk categories. Avoid soft drinks, especially diet soft drinks as they are toxic to your health. Eat your food as close to its natural condition as possible. So, for example eating broccoli with a dip would be an excellent snack and certainly a lot better than a bag of potato chips. Drinking half your body weight in ounces of water daily is an excellent way to help your body stay hydrated as well as to flush toxins out. Avoid pain medications if you can and moderate your consumption of alcohol. Getting in some daily exercise is also a good way to protect your body and your health.

    Now you should have a better understanding of chronic kidney disease and how to prevent it. Get tested regularly if you are in the high risk categories so that you can catch this early and work to reverse it before it gets to be too late.

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