What is chronic kidney disease?
Chronic kidney disease, or chronic kidney failure, is a gradual loss of kidney function. The kidneys are an essential organ that filter wastes and excess fluids from the blood, which leave the body when we urinate. When dangerous levels of waste, electrolytes and fluid build up in the body, chronic kidney disease has reached an advanced stage. During the early stages of chronic kidney failure, signs and symptoms may be small or undetectable. You may not realize that you have this disease until your kidney function is significantly impaired.
Many factors can contribute to this disease, including diabetes (type 1 or 2), high blood pressure, kidney inflammation, pyelonephritis (recurrent kidney infections), polycystic kidney disease, vesicoureteral reflux (a condition that causes urine to back up into the kidneys) and prolonged obstructions of the urinary tract. Smoking, obesity, old age, family history and abnormal kidney structure are all risk factors for chronic kidney failure.
What are the symptoms?
Signs and symptoms usually develop over time, especially if the kidney damage progresses slowly. You may experience:
- Changes in the number of times you urinate
- Loss of appetite
- High blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of the feet and ankles
- Muscle cramps and twitches
- Fatigue and weakness
The reason why these signs and symptoms may not be noticeable until irreversible damage has been done is because the kidneys are highly adaptable and are able to compensate for lost function. If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, schedule an appointment with one of our healthcare providers. If you have a medical condition that increases the risk of kidney disease, urine and blood tests can help to detect chronic kidney failure. Early detection is important, since chronic kidney disease can affect almost every part of your body.
How can I reduce the risk?
In order to reduce the risk, we recommend that you:
- Avoid taking too many over-the-counter medications/pain relievers
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid smoking
- Work with your healthcare provider to manage your conditions or diseases that increase the risk of kidney disease
What are the treatments?
Certain types of kidney disease can be treated, but for the most part, chronic kidney disease does not have a cure. The treatments work to control the signs and symptoms as much as possible. In order to control the symptoms and make you feel more comfortable, your doctor may prescribe:
- High blood pressure medication
- Medicine to lower your cholesterol
- Medicine to treat anemia (a condition in which the blood does not have enough healthy red blood cells)
- Medicine to relieve any swelling you experience
- Calcium and Vitamin D supplements to prevent weak bones
A lower protein diet may also be recommended to minimize the amount of waste products in your blood. If you are diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease (complete or near-complete kidney failure), you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant. Dialysis artificially removes extra waste and fluid from your blood when your kidneys no longer can.
Schedule an appointment in Spokane, Washington
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, or if you are at an increased risk for kidney disease, schedule your appointment at Jamison Family Medicine. We provide diagnosis and treatments to patients in Spokane and the surrounding areas. Schedule online or over at the phone, by calling (509) 319-2430.