Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is defined as the presence of impaired or reduced kidney function lasting at least 3 months. A person who has the most severe form of CKD, end-stage kidney disease, usually requires a kidney transplant or dialysis to survive.
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About 1 in 10 people have some degree of CKD. It can develop at any age and various conditions can lead to CKD. The risk of getting CKD rises with age and is more common in women.
Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms of CKD manifest slowly and aren’t specific to the disease, thus risking being mistaken for some other health issue. Some people have no symptoms at all and end up being diagnosed only when they get a lab test. The first 3 stages of CKD usually have no symptoms, but people might experience the following:
Fatigue, high blood pressure, loss of appetite, malaise, or water-electrolyte imbalance, nausea or vomiting.
You are at risk for kidney disease if you have
Diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of CKD. High blood glucose, also called blood sugar, from diabetes can damage the blood vessels in your kidneys. Around 1 in 3 people with diabetes have CKD.
High blood pressure. High blood pressure is the second leading cause of CKD. Like high blood glucose, high blood pressure also can damage the blood vessels in your kidneys. Approximately 1 in 5 adults with high blood pressure have CKD.
Heart disease. Research shows a link between kidney disease and heart disease. People with heart disease are at higher risk for kidney disease, and people with kidney disease are at higher risk for heart disease. Researchers are working to better understand the relationship between the two.
Family history of kidney failure. If anyone in your family has kidney failure, you are at risk for CKD. Kidney disease tends to run in families. If you have kidney disease, encourage family members to get tested as well.
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Chronic kidney disease (CKD) usually develops in stages as the kidneys don’t usually fail all at once. Instead, the disease often progresses slowly over a period of years. This is good news because if CKD is caught early, medicines and lifestyle changes may help slow its progress and keep you feeling your best for as long as possible.
Knowing your stage of kidney disease is important for deciding treatment. CKD has five stages, ranging from nearly normal kidney function (stage 1) to kidney failure (stage 5), which requires dialysis or kidney transplant.
Understanding your stage can help you learn how to take control and slow its progression.
Children with chronic kidney failure may not have any symptoms until about 80% of their kidney function is lost. Then, they may feel tired, have nausea or vomiting, have difficulty concentrating, or feel confused. Fluid build-up appears as swelling in the skin, fluid congestion in the lungs, and high blood pressure. At this stage, two treatment options are available — dialysis and transplant.