NATIONAL KIDNEY MONTH

Chronic kidney disease, also known as chronic renal disease or CKD, is a condition characterized by a gradual loss of kidney function over time.

Chronic kidney disease includes conditions that damage your kidneys and decrease their ability to keep you healthy by filtering wastes from your blood. If kidney disease worsens, wastes can build to high levels in your blood and make you feel sick.

You may develop complications like:

  • high blood pressure
  • anemia (low blood count)
  • weak bones
  • poor nutritional health
  • nerve damage

Kidney disease also increases your risk of having heart and blood vessel disease. These problems may happen slowly over a long time. Early detection and treatment can often keep chronic kidney disease from getting worse. When kidney disease progresses, it may eventually lead to kidney failure, which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain life.

Kidney disease facts

  • 37 million American adults have CKD, and millions of others are at increased risk
  • Early detection can help prevent the progression of kidney disease to kidney failure
  • Heart disease is the primary cause of death for all people with CKD

What are the main causes of chronic kidney disease?

Diabetes and high blood pressure, or hypertension, are responsible for two-thirds of chronic kidney disease cases.

Diabetes:

Diabetes occurs when your blood sugar remains too high. Over time, unmanaged blood sugar can cause damage to many organs in your body, including the kidneys and heart and blood vessels, nerves, and eyes.

High blood pressure:

High blood pressure occurs when your blood pressure against the walls of your blood vessels increases. If uncontrolled or poorly controlled, high blood pressure can be a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes, and chronic kidney disease. Also, chronic kidney disease can cause high blood pressure.

What are other conditions that affect the kidney?

There are a few other conditions or circumstances that can cause kidney disease.

  • Glomerulonephritis: Glomerulonephritis is a group of diseases that cause inflammation and damage the kidney’s filtering units. These disorders are the third most common type of kidney disease.
  • Inherited diseases: Polycystic kidney disease, or PKD, is a common inherited disease that causes large cysts to form in the kidneys and damage the surrounding tissue.
  • Kidney and urinary tract abnormalities before birth: Malformations that occur as a baby develops in its mother’s womb. For example, a narrowing may occur that prevents normal outflow of urine and causes urine to flow back up to the kidney. This causes infections and may damage the kidneys.
  • Autoimmune diseases: When the body’s defense system, the immune system, turns against the body, it’s called an autoimmune disease. Lupus nephritis is one such autoimmune disease that results in inflammation (swelling or scarring) of the small blood vessels that filter wastes in your kidney.
  • Other causes: Obstructions caused by kidney stones or tumors can cause kidney damage. An enlarged prostate gland in men or repeated urinary infections can also cause kidney damage.

What are the risk factors of chronic kidney disease?

Anyone can get chronic kidney disease at any age. However, some people are more likely than others to develop kidney disease. You may have an increased risk for kidney disease if you:

  • have diabetes
  • have high blood pressure
  • have a family history of kidney failure
  • are older
  • belong to a population group with a high rate of diabetes or high blood pressure, such as African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian, Pacific Islanders, and American Indians

What are the symptoms?

Most people may not have any severe symptoms until their kidney disease is advanced. However, you may notice that you:

  • ¬†feel more tired and have less energy
  • have trouble concentrating
  • have a poor appetite
  • have trouble sleeping
  • have muscle cramping at night
  • have swollen feet and ankles
  • have puffiness around your eyes, especially in the morning
  • have dry, itchy skin
  • need to urinate more often, especially at night

If you or a loved one are having these symptoms, visit your primary care physician.

For more information visit www.kidney.org.