We take our kidneys for granted, like we do for most important organs in the body. Kidneys are an invaluable organ in the human body, failure of which increases the chances of mortality.
Role of Kidneys
Kidneys are important for three reasons:
- To regulate water level in the body
- To eliminate toxins or waste
- To produce important hormones
What is Chronic Kidney Disease?
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) indicates that your kidneys are not functioning optimally. The severity of Chronic Kidney Disease can vary. A significant number of cases of Chronic Kidney Disease are mild or moderate, occur in the elderly population, do not show visible symptoms, and may lead to kidney failure.
Diagnosis of Chronic Kidney Disease
A simple blood test called Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR) can calculate the volume of blood filtered by your kidneys.
Five Stages of Chronic Kidney Disease
|Functioning of Kidneys||Description|
|Stage 1||More than 90%||Normal|
|Stage 2||60% to 89%||Mild Decrease|
|Stage 3||30% to 59%||Mild to Moderate Decrease|
|Stage 4||15% to 29%||Severe Decrease|
|Stage 5||Less than 15%||Failure of Kidneys|
Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease
Various conditions can damage the kidneys or affect their functioning thereby leading to Chronic Kidney Disease. Some of the important causes are mentioned below:
1) Diabetes: Diabetes can lead to a complication called diabetic kidney disease.
2) Hypertension: Untreated or poorly-managed hypertension or high blood pressure is a predominant cause of Chronic Kidney Disease.
3) Ageing: There is a decline in kidney function as you grow older. Nearly 50% of individuals, aged above 75 are in some stage of Chronic Kidney Disease.
Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease
If you fall between Stages 1 and 3, you may not demonstrate any symptoms or feel unwell. Symptoms become pronounced beginning from Stage 4. Early symptoms are unspecific and vague, such as tiredness and low energy levels. Some of the major symptoms include:
- Lack of clarity in thinking
- Lack of appetite
- Loss of weight
- Dry and itchy skin
- Cramps in the muscles
- Retention of fluids that causes swelling of ankles and feet
- Puffiness surrounding eyes
- Frequent urination
- Paleness because of anaemia
Treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease
Individuals in Stages 1 to 3 of Chronic Kidney Disease may not require special treatment. However, research has proven that treatment in early stages of Chronic Kidney Disease can slow the progression of disease. Since specific conditions cause Chronic Kidney Disease, the treatments are also specific and preventive in nature:
- Glucose control among diabetics
- Blood pressure control for those with hypertension
- Antibiotics for individuals with recurrent infections
- Surgery for those with blockage to the flow of urine
The old adage, “prevention is better than cure”, is true when it comes to Chronic Kidney Disease. Individuals with kidney failure may have to undergo dialysis. Stage 5 of Chronic Kidney Disease may be fatal.
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