A person with chronic kidney disease faces the risk of death if both kidneys fail, so it is preferable to avoid reaching this stage by taking some precautions.
A progressive decline in kidney function over months or years is known as chronic kidney disease (CKD). Nephrons are a million or more microscopic filters found in each kidney. Nephrons stop functioning when they are damaged. Healthy nephrons can handle the additional work for a while. Yet, more and more nephrons will shut down if the injury persists. The remaining nephrons can no longer filter the blood effectively enough to maintain your health after a certain point.
Kidney failure occurs when kidney function falls below a specific threshold. A person’s entire body is impacted by kidney failure. Kidney failure that is left untreated can be fatal.
The most common causes of kidney disease are high blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of ESRD in most developed countries, accounting for roughly one-third of all cases. Inflammation (glomerulonephritis) and infections are two less common conditions (pyelonephritis). Some drugs, particularly pain relievers (analgesics), can cause CKD if used for an extended period of time.
A person can lose up to 90% of their kidney functions before experiencing any symptoms. Most people have no symptoms until CKD is advanced. Signs of advancing CKD include swollen ankles, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, decreased appetite, blood in the urine and foamy urine.
Kidney disease usually progresses silently, often destroying most of the kidney function before causing any symptoms. The early detection of failing kidney function is crucial because it allows suitable treatment before kidney damage or deterioration manifests itself through other complications. Simple laboratory tests are done on small samples of blood (to measure creatinine content and estimate GFR) and on urine (to measure creatinine and albumin excretion).
There is no cure for chronic kidney disease, although treatment can slow or halt the progression of the disease and can prevent other serious conditions developing. The main treatments are a proper diet and medications, and for those who reach ESRD, long term dialysis treatment or kidney transplantation.
In the early stages of kidney disease, a proper diet and medications may help to maintain the critical balances in the body that your kidneys would normally control. However, when you have kidney failure, wastes and fluids accumulate in your body and you need dialysis treatments to remove these wastes and excess fluid from your blood, dialysis can be done either by machine (hemodialysis) or by using fluid in your abdomen (peritoneal dialysis). In suitable patients a kidney transplant combined with medications and a healthy diet can restore normal kidney function. Dialysis and kidney transplantation are known as renal replacement therapies (RRT) because they attempt to “replace” the normal functioning of the kidneys.
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