Chronic kidney disease means lasting damage to the kidneys that get worse over time. When the damage becomes so bad that the kidneys stop working, it is called “kidney failure” or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Kidney failure is incredibly dangerous because, without dialysis or a transplant, the patient will die.
There are five stages of kidney disease, from mild damage to complete kidney failure. Detecting kidney disease early can save lives and make treatment much easier and safer for the patient.
What Causes Kidney Disease?
Anyone can develop chronic kidney disease, although certain people are more susceptible than others. Those who are high risk are any individuals who also have:
-High Blood Pressure or Hypertension
-A family history of kidney disease
In particular, individuals over the age of 60 are more likely to develop kidney disease and should pay attention to signs and symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of Kidney Disease?
Early symptoms include:
-Tiredness, lack of energy, and difficulty concentrating
-Dry and itchy skin
-Frequent urination (or infrequent urination)
-Bloody or foamy urine
-Loss of appetite
-Nausea or vomiting
Symptoms of full kidney failure include:
The Importance of Chronic Kidney Disease Diagnosis
Detecting kidney disease early can save lives and means more comfortable, less invasive treatment for patients. Individuals with stage 1 kidney disease can often mitigate negative effects with a change in diet and lifestyle. Those with stage 5 kidney failure need long-term dialysis or a transplant to survive.
Unfortunately, according to Dr. Joseph Vassalotti, the Chief Medical Officer at the National Kidney Foundation, “only 10% of people with chronic kidney disease know that they have it.” This is because the early symptoms are often ignored or attributed to other health issues.
Going for routine screenings or talking to your doctor about symptoms can be critical for detecting early-stage kidney disease and taking action.
How Is Chronic Kidney Disease Diagnosed?
Doctors can diagnose kidney disease through a number of non-invasive or minimally-invasive tests.
The most common type of test is a simple blood test. By taking a small blood sample, a doctor can test your eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate). Your body is continuously making waste that goes into your blood. The role of your kidneys is to filter out this waste. Your eGFR shows how much waste is still in your blood, indicating how well your kidneys are working.
Urine Test Your kidneys make urine. If there is blood or protein in your urine, it indicates that your kidneys are not working well. A sample of urine can be collected by a doctor or at home to be tested in a lab.
Other times, a doctor may need to look at the kidneys to understand the extent of the damage and to see if there are places that are blocked. Ultrasounds are non-invasive and can detect the extent of renal damage. BPL’s range of ultrasound systems provides efficiency and comfort for both the medical technician and the patient. Equipped with Single crystal technology, BPL’s trolley-mounted ultrasounds offer state-of-the-art imagining for any medical setting.
How Can Chronic Kidney Disease be Managed?
Although most damage is permanent, there are ways to keep kidneys healthy longer and prevent the damage from getting worse.
-Controlling blood sugar and diet for diabetic patients
-Maintaining healthy blood pressure through diet and lifestyle
-Exercising regularly (30-minutes per day)
-Limiting alcohol and tobacco use
-Maintaining a healthy weight
-Following a low-salt, low-fat diet
Chronic kidney disease is a common yet serious medical problem. The earlier damage is detected, the easier it is to keep kidneys healthier longer. Talk to your doctor about any preexisting conditions or symptoms and if you should be screened for kidney disease.