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Chronic Kidney Disease Overview

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD, also called kidney failure) is a condition in which the kidneys lose the ability to remove waste and excess water from the bloodstream. As waste and fluids accumulate, other body systems are affected, potentially leading to complications.

The most common causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. In the early stages of CKD, there are no obvious symptoms. The disease can progress to complete kidney failure, also called end stage renal disease. This occus when kidney function has worsened to the point that dialysis or kidney transplantation is required to maintain life.

The main goal of treatment is to prevent progression of CKD to complete kidney failure. The best way to do this is to diagnose and control the underlying cause.

Normal  Kidney Function

A brief overview of normal kidney function can help in the understanding of chronic kidney disease. The kidneys function to remove wastes and excess water from the blood. These wastes and fluids are combined to form urine . Many vital body functions are dependent upon the proper functioning of the kidneys.

In order for this filtering process to occur properly, the blood pressure and blood flow to the kidneys must be adequate. If the arteries leading to the kidney are diseased, the filtering process will be affected. The nephrons .including the glomeruli and the tubules, must be healthy, and the path from the nephron to the urethra  must not be blocked.

When the kidney filters are working properly, the result is a proper balance of fluids and chemicals in the body. If an imbalance occurs, many critical bodily functions can be affected, possibly producing symptoms associated with kidney disease

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the glomeruli,
  • Polycystic kidney disease (cysts in the kidneys,
  • A family history of kidney disease

Evaluation And  Diagnosis

A healthcare provider may use several tests to diagnose chronic kidney disease and determine if there is a treatable underlying cause.

These include the following:

Kidney Function Tests :The glomerular filtration rate (GFR) gives an approximate measure of the number of functioning nephrons. GFR is used to monitor the severity of kidney impairment. The most common way to estimate the GFR in adults is with several blood tests.

  • A reduction in GFR implies either worsening of the underlying kidney disease or the development of another, occasionally reversible kidney problem.
  • An increase in GFR, on the other hand, indicates improvement in renal function.
  • A stable GFR in people with chronic kidney disease implies stable disease.
  • Urine tests 
  • Imaging studies 
  • Renal biopsy

Chronic Kidney Disease Treatment

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The First Step in the treatment of chronic kidney disease is to determine the underlying cause. Some causes are reversible, including use of medications that impair kidney function, blockage in the urinary tract, or decreased blood flow to the kidneys. Treatment of reversible causes may prevent CKD from worsening.

Research has shown that management of chronic kidney disease is best done with the assistance of a nephrologist, a doctor who specializes in kidney diseases. Early referral to a nephrologist decreases the chance of developing complications associated with chronic kidney disease.

  • Hypertension
  • Anemia
  • Dietary changes
  • Protein restriction
  • High potassium
  • High phosphate
  • High cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Sexual function

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