What is Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) – one of the most serious illnesses of the kidneys – is nicknamed “the silent killer” because it presents very subtle and mild symptoms, sometimes no symptoms at all, and often is diagnosed as something less serious or not life-threatening. A surprising number of issues and factors can lead to CKD. If you’re unfamiliar with CKD or unsure of its symptoms, here’s is some information to help you to determine if you or a loved may be at risk for CKD.
Your kidneys, hard at work
Kidneys filter your entire system – from blood, food, prescribed or over-the-counter medication, drugs, tobacco and alcohol, to bacteria and infection. Whatever the body can’t use or have excess of is excreted as waste in your urine. If dangerous levels of fluid, waste, or electrolytes build up in your body, this can tax the kidneys, causing them to reduce their functionality. The speedy onset of kidney disease can also be caused by acute kidney injury, which can occur when the kidneys are put through trauma, usually in the form of reduced blood circulation, dehydration or complications after surgery.
Symptoms of CKD
CKDs can brought on by acute kidney injury such as kidney stones. Kidney stones form when urine has too much calcium, uric acid or other crystal-forming substances. Having kidney stones can increase your probability of developing CKD. The same can be said for kidney or urinary tract infections (UTIs). Even issues unrelated to the kidneys can create problems that lead to CKD. Diabetes and obesity are leading causes of CKD, as is high blood pressure, inadequate nutrition or dehydration.
Other symptoms of CKD include:
- Fluid retention, which can cause swelling in your arms and legs, high blood pressure, or fluid in your lungs.
- A sudden rise in the blood’s potassium levels (hyperkalemia), which could impair your heart’s ability to function and could result in heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease.
- Weakened bones, as well as damage to your central nervous system and/or immune system.
The treatment you receive for CKD depends on the severity of your symptoms. Nephrologists – the medical doctors who specialize in kidney health – understand what measures to take to keep you at optimum health. The objective for any doctor or patient is to catch CKD at the very early signs of Stage 1, when the disease is very mild and treatable. Should you be diagnosed at Stage 5, you likely can expect dialysis treatment or kidney transplant.
Because healthy kidneys can prevent heart disease and improve your overall health, the most important step in treating kidney disease is controlling your blood pressure, as well as your blood sugar, especially if are diabetic. If you’ve experienced any of the symptoms or illnesses that follow, it may be time for you to visit a nephrologist. If you believe you may need to see a nephrologist, visit the office of Commonwealth Nephrology Associates.
Our kidney specialists are devoted to caring for patients with kidney diseases and associated conditions such as hypertension, kidney stones, and electrolyte disorders by providing specialized treatments to help slow the progression of chronic kidney disease and improving outcomes. Schedule your appointment today, call our offices at (617) 739-2100.