Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease, also known as chronic renal disease, refers to the gradual loss of kidney function. Kidney disease causes damage to the kidneys and decreases their ability to keep a person healthy. The disease progresses slowly.

The kidneys’ function is to remove waste from the blood. However, with kidney disease, usually caused by diabetes, useful nutrients, such as protein, begin to leave the body through urine. As the disease gets worse, waste slowly builds up, increasing a person’s risk of getting diseases of the heart and blood vessels, among other complications. The kidneys will eventually fail leading to end stage renal disease. A person with end stage renal disease will be forced to have dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Persons of African American, Hispanic, Pacific Islander and Native American decent are at an increased risk. Seniors are also at an increased risk as well as persons with diabetes and hypertension.

Kidney Disease Symptoms

Symptoms of kidney disease are not always immediately noticeable. In addition, many symptoms will be diagnosed as other illnesses and may not be diagnosed as kidney disease until serious damage has occurred.

The initial symptoms of chronic kidney disease include:

  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating and sleeping
  • Having a poor appetite
  • Suffering from muscle cramps at night, swollen feet and ankles, puffiness around the eyes and dry, itchy skin
  • Needing to urinate more often

Complications of the disease include fluid retention, weakness of the bones, anemia and damage to the central nervous system, among others.

Kidney Disease Causes

Diabetes and high blood pressure are two major causes of chronic kidney disease. In addition to diabetes and hypertension, the following conditions also cause damage to the kidneys: – Glomerulonephritis – Polycystic kidney disease, which is often inherited – Malformations caused in the womb – Lupus as well as other diseases that affect the immune system – Kidney stones, tumors or enlarged prostate glands (in men) – Urinary infections

Kidney Disease Treatment

Chronic kidney failure cannot be cured.

Treating the symptoms and slowing the progression of the disease are the focus of treatment for chronic kidney disease. For example, treatment might include high blood pressure medications, statins and medications to protect the bones from weakness.

At end stage renal disease, a person must undergo dialysis or receive a transplant. Otherwise, the disease is fatal.