Keep in mind, the earlier kidney disease is discovered, the better the possibility of slowing or preventing its progression. 

The kidney is a bean-shaped structure, located at the rear of abdominal cavity. The right kidney sits just below the diaphragm and posterior to the liver, the left below the diaphragm and posterior to the spleen. The kidney is not just an organ that generates urine and eliminates waste but participates in the balance of the body as a system, regulating the body’s inner pH, electrolyte levels, fluid volume, blood pressure and production of some essential hormones.

 

WHAT IS CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition in which your kidneys chronically lose their function over a period of time. Worsening kidney disease can make you feel ill because waste products accumulate in your body. Other complications, like high blood pressure, anemia, metabolic bone disease and malnutrition, can be detected. Patients with chronic kidney disease are also at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease (i.e., heart disease, stroke). Once kidney disease reaches an advanced stage, dialysis or a kidney transplant will be required to maintain life.

WHAT CAUSES CKD?

The two main causes of CKD are diabetes and high blood pressure, which are responsible for about 65 percent of the cases.

Other conditions that affect the kidneys are:

  • Glomerulonephritis, an inflammation of the kidney’s filtering units
  • Cysts
  • Overactive immune system
  • Blockage of bladder that restricts urine flow
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Urinary stones, or crystallized materials, in the kidneys.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CKD?

You may have few signs or symptoms in the early stage of CKD that may not become obvious until your kidney function is significantly impaired.Yet, you may notice that you:

  • Feel more tired and fatigued
  • Have a poor appetite
  • Experience nausea and vomiting
  • Have difficulty breathing
  • Have swollen hands, feet, ankles and face
  • Have itchy skin
  • Have nighttime urination.

HOW DO I KNOW MY KIDNEY FUNCTION?

GFR, glomerular filtration rate, is the best test to measure your kidney function and determine the stage of kidney disease. Serum creatinine, age, race, gender and other factors are used to calculate kidney function. Creatinine is a break-down product of creatine phosphate in muscle and is filtered out of the blood by the kidneys. If the kidneys are impaired, serum creatinine, a waste product of skeletal muscular metabolism, rises; therefore, creatinine levels in the blood and urine may be used to calculate the creatinine clearance, which reflects the estimated GFR. It also can be calculated by using Modification of Diet in Renal Disease (MDRD) formula.

HOW DO I SLOW THE PROGRESSION OF KIDNEY DISEASE?

  • Stop smoking
  • Do aerobic exercise
  • Control your blood pressure, sugar level and cholesterol
  • Eat right by limiting foods that are high in protein, saturated fats, phosphorus, potassium and sodium
  • Avoid taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (analgesics), for example ibuprofen, naproxen and celecoxib
  • See a kidney specialist for a further workup and close monitoring of your kidney function

WHAT HAPPENS IF MY TEST RESULTS SHOW I MAY HAVE CKD?

It is important to see a kidney specialist who will consult on your case and help manage your care. Start by asking your physician about your kidney function, specially if you have diabetes and high blood pressure.

By Wanwarat Ananthapanyasut, M.D.