Chronic Kidney Disease: Causes and Management

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Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition that results in the loss of kidney function over time. It can develop a variety of ways, from high blood pressure and diabetes to obesity, inherited diseases, and more. It’s a persistent condition that causes permanent damage by disrupting your kidney’s ability to regulate water in your blood and filter waster. Unfortunately, in its early stages, CKD rarely presents symptoms. Instead, symptoms develop over time as the disease worsens. If left untreated, the disease may progress to end-stage renal failure (ESRF), a fatal condition if you don’t undergo a kidney transplant or dialysis.

Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease

As previously mentioned, CKD has many causes. Hypertension and diabetes are the leading causes. Some other conditions that may cause CKD to include:

  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Inherited Diseases
  • Congenital Renal Malformations
  • Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections
  • Obstructions to Urinary Outflow

Risk Factors for Chronic Kidney Disease

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Family History
  • Cardiovascular Diseases
  • Lifestyle Factors
  • Obesity
  • Prolonged Use of Certain Medications
  • Kidney Stones

Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease

Like many medical conditions, CKD rarely produces symptoms in its earliest stages. Instead, many of the following symptoms show up once damage to your kidney has already begun.

  • Fatigue 
  • Lack of Energy
  • Poor Concentration
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Sudden Weight Change
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Swelling in the Ankles and Feet
  • Puffiness Around the Eyes
  • Dry Skin
  • Blood in Urine

Other more severe symptoms may occur because of complications. They include the following:

  • Anemia
  • Chest Pain
  • Shortness of Breath
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Brittle, Painful Bones
  • Erectile Dysfunction in Men
  • Infertility in Women
  • Lack of Sex Drive

Diagnosis of Chronic Kidney Disease

If you think you may have symptoms of CKD, contact your doctor and schedule an appointment. During your appointment, your doctor will discuss your medical history and any symptoms you’re experiencing. From there, he or she may order a variety of different tests, including the following:

Treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease

Unfortunately for CKD patients, the disease is irreversible and chronic. Because of this, the goal of treatment is to alleviate symptoms and improve your existing condition. By treating and controlling conditions such as diabetes and obesity, you may be able to slow down the damaging effects of CKD. Common methods of treatment include the following:

  • Diet and Lifestyle Changes
  • Supplements and Medication
  • Medical Care, Including Vaccinations

If you’re diagnosed with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), it means your kidneys are beginning to shut down. In this case, the only course of treatment is dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Prognosis of Chronic Kidney Disease

When it comes to CKD, your prognosis depends on what stage your disease is in and how dedicated you are to making diet and lifestyle changes to control conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. There are few ways to prevent CKD, and if you have some of the risk factors, it’s a good idea to undergo regular screening. The sooner your doctor diagnoses you with CKD, the more you can do to slow its progression.