What is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?
Chronic kidney disease (CKD), also called Chronic Renal Disease is defined as the gradual loss of kidney function over at least 3 months to several years “since the time of organ insult by the root disease” (not since symptoms appear).
When kidney function is jeopardized in a gradual but progressive manner, they will be unable to perform any of their designated functions properly, that they otherwise normally carry out to keep you alive and kicking!
What causes CKD?
CKD is an umbrella term for a multitude of medical conditions that can affect and gradually damage the kidney during their natural course in our body.
The following diseases & conditions have been found to cause Chronic Kidney Disease:
KNOWN CAUSES OF CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE
|DISEASES THAT DAMAGE
|1. Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes mellitus
2. Hypertension (High blood pressure)
|DISEASES AFFECTING THE
BODY’S IMMUNE SYSTEM
|1. Lupus Nephritis
2. IgA Nephropathy
3. Uric Acid Nephropathy in Gout
|DISEASES THAT ORIGINATE IN
2. Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)
3. Minimal Change Disease
4. Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS)
5. Chronic Interstitial Nephritis
6. Kidney Cancer
OF THE URINE OUTLET
PIPELINE (URETER) BEYOND
|1. Enlarged prostate gland (only in males)
2. Prolonged kidney stones lodged along the urine outflow pipeline
3. Abnormal narrowing (stricture) of the ureter
4. Some cancers that can impinge on & forcibly narrow the urine pipeline (ureter) from the outside
|CONDITIONS THAT AFFECT MULTIPLE ORGANS INCLUDING KIDNEYS
2. Alport Syndrome
3. Goodpasture’s Syndrome
4. Wegener’s granulomatosis
5. Alagille Syndrome
|CONDITION THAT CAUSES
URINE TO BACK UP INTO YOUR KIDNEYS
|1. Vesico-ureteral reflux
|1. Repeated, untreated kidney infection, called Pyelonephritis either from blood or passing from a urinary tract infection
|1. Water contaminated with heavy metals such as Arsenic, Lead & Mercury
|KIDNEY DAMAGE AS A SIDE EFFECT OF OTHER
|1. Overuse of painkillers such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen etc.
2. Cancer chemotherapy medicines such as Cisplatin
|KIDNEY DAMAGE DUE TO EXPOSURE TO HAZARDOUS RADIATION
|1. Occupational hazard for radiology technicians in hospitals and workers in nuclear power plants (high radiation zones), if suitable protective gear is not used
2. Radiotherapy for cancers located around the kidneys
Irrespective of the root cause, once CKD sets-in, kidney damage starts progressing such that it cannot be reversed anymore. Patients start experiencing a set of common but vague symptoms spread across different organ systems. These symptoms have a direct relation to compromise of the normal functions that kidneys carry out to keep you alive and kicking!
Because your kidneys are highly adaptable and able to compensate for lost function, signs and symptoms of CKD usually appear only after significant kidney damage (usually more than 50%) has already taken place. It is this silent nature of this disease, that makes things all the more difficult on the end of patients. Late symptoms mean delayed doctor consultation & delayed initiation of treatment to slow down disease progression.
CKD may present with the signs and symptoms as categorized below:
Please note, the list above is NOT exhaustive, and all patients may not present with every symptom listed here.
Risk Factors for CKD
Anyone can get chronic kidney disease at any age. However, some people have a greater likelihood than others, of developing kidney disease. You may have an increased risk for kidney disease if you have:
- Diabetes (uncontrolled high blood sugar)
- Sustained High Blood Pressure
- A family history of kidney failure
- are a smoker
- are a heavy drinker
- had a low birth weight (less than 2.5 kilograms)
- are older (>60 years)
- belong to a population group that has a high rate of diabetes or high blood pressure (African Americans, Latin Americans, Asian, Pacific Islanders, and South Asians)
How do I know when to see a doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms as listed above, do not hesitate to consult your doctor. However, we implore you to try and not panic instantly if you find yourself in such a situation. Please note, many of the symptoms in CKD are generic in nature. They may overlap with other relatively easily treatable conditions. So, avoid any form of self-diagnosis.
If upon consultation, your medical team feels appropriate, they will evaluate you for kidney disease by means of clinical examination, blood work, urine sample analysis, imaging tests (such as ultrasonography) and sometimes, a kidney biopsy. In addition, if you have a medical condition that increases your risk of kidney disease, your doctor is likely to monitor your blood pressure and kidney function with urine and blood tests during regular follow-up visits.
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