What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

Human anatomy and physiology is a very complicated field of science. As complicated as the normal function of the body is, that complicated is the process and results, when any of your organ systems go wrong. One of the major organ systems of the human body is the excretory system, which includes the kidney and other urinary accessory organs. Every human consists of two small bean-shaped kidneys on either side of the body at the back of the abdominal cavity.

Every day your kidneys function to filter about 180 litres of blood and remove ions, toxins, and medications and excrete them in the urine and it also retains the necessary substances and sends them back to the blood. Kidneys also help to maintain water-salt & acid-base balance in your body; they control blood pressure and make red blood cells.

But sometimes due to many factors your kidneys get damaged and are not able to carry out their normal and usual functions causing a great deal of medical complications. The condition where kidneys are damaged and fail to remove the waste from blood is medically termed as – CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE.

Chronic Kidney Disease Causes

Chronic Kidney disease (CKD) is a permanent loss of kidney functions that is contributed by various factors. Few defined causes of CKD are:-

  • Diabetes (leading cause)
  • High blood pressure (second leading cause)
  • Heart disease
  • Repeated urinary infection
  • Urinary blockage
  • Family history of kidney failure
  • Damage to arteries supplying kidneys
  • Congenital (by birth) kidney disease
  • Injury or trauma
  • Autoimmune disorders like systemic lupus erythematosus and scleroderma
  • Side effects of some medication or toxic chemicals
  • Kidney stones and infection
  • Polycystic kidney
  • Glomerulonephritis (group of diseases affecting kidney’s filtering unit – nephron)
  • Reflux nephropathy (backward flow of urine)

Chronic Kidney Disease Symptoms

Chronic Kidney disease (CKD) happens gradually and over a period of time, which is usually months to years. It is called a silent disease as doesn’t show any signs or symptoms in the early stages. Many of you do not realize that the disease is growing in your body, and one fine day when the disease reaches its advanced stage (kidney failure).

you will be rushed to the hospital for emergency dialysis. Therefore, it is very important that you know the basic signs of kidney disease so that you can consult your doctor and confirm your diagnosis. Few symptoms of CKD are: -

  • Diabetes (leading cause)
  • High blood pressure (second leading cause)
  • Heart disease
  • Feeling weak & tired
  • Reduced appetite & weight loss
  • Less sleep
  • Puffiness around eyes in the morning
  • Swelling in feet and ankle
  • Numbness in hands and legs
  • Frequent urination
  • Excess or less urine
  • Blood in stool
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • No menstrual periods
  • Skin itching or rashes due to waste building up
  • Bad breath and a metallic taste in the mouth
  • Shortness of breath due to excess fluid building up in the lungs and fewer RBCs cause oxygen deprivation
  • Feeling cold due to anemia
  • Pain on the side of the affected kidney
  • Decreased sexual desire

Certain factors may increase your chance of joining the group of people with CKD. If you are old, a diabetic or have high blood pressure, then your chances of developing CKD is more. Your risk of CKD also increases, if you have a family member suffering from CKD. Belonging to some racial groups like African American, American Indians, Hispanic Americans, Asians, and Pacific Islanders also increases your chances of CKD.

Since Chronic Kidney disease (CKD) doesn’t show any signs in its initial stage of development, it is very difficult to find out the condition in its early stage. Few very simple medical tests can help diagnose CKD.

Chronic Kidney disease (CKD) is always associated with high blood pressure. Therefore, a continuous increase in blood pressure may be a sign that kidneys are damaged. To check the functioning capability of a kidney, a simple blood urea nitrogen test (BUN test) and blood creatinine tests are done. As the presence of these two metabolic wastes in the blood shows that kidneys are not functioning properly.

Urine tests are done to see how well your kidney’s filtering units are working. A normal functioning kidney excretes all the waste products but retains the RBCs and proteins. In case if there is a problem in your filtering unit then RBCs and protein might leak and spill into the urine.

If you have undergone treatment or surgical removal for colon cancer, you may need to undergo periodic tests to detect the blood counts or other organs functions like the liver and kidney function tests. Additionally, you may be advised to undergo testing for carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) (normal levels: 2.5 to 3 ng/mL) to detect recurrences. CEA testing may be done bi-monthly or less frequently depending upon the stage of cancer. Prognosis

Prognosis, which implies the likelihood of recovery, is determined by the stage of cancer, the number of recurrent episodes, resectability of a focus of cancer, CEA levels, and the overall health of the patient. The cancers that have spread to distant sites have the gravest prognosis.

Timely detection and appropriate treatment can improve life in colorectal cancer. However challenging the treatment maybe, if you are prepared to meet it, you can make it more effective. Discuss more with your doctor and learn about the stage of your cancer and what treatment may be required. After you have been treated, religiously adhere to the follow-up plan. You may need to undergo regular physical examinations, blood tests, scans and examination of the intestines with fibre-optic flexible tubing inserted way up the anal opening. If you have undergone surgical resection, you will need to know how to do without the segment of your intestine that you have lost. You need to plan for healthy survivorship. You may seek the help of family and friends and even join a support group.

FAQ- Chronic Kidney disease (CKD)

Few symptoms of CKD are: - Diabetes (leading cause), High blood pressure (second leading cause), Heart disease, Feeling weak & tired, Reduced appetite & weight loss, Less sleep, Puffiness around eyes in the morning, Swelling in feet and ankle, Numbness in hands and legs, Frequent urination, Excess or less urine, Blood in stool, Nausea and vomiting, No menstrual periods, Skin itching or rashes due to waste building up, Bad breath and a metallic taste in the mouth, Shortness of breath due to excess fluid building up in the lungs and less RBCs cause oxygen deprivation, Feeling cold due to anemia, Pain on the side of the affected kidney, Decreased sexual desire.