Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
The kidneys are two fist-sized organs located on either side of you spinal column protected by your rib cage. Your kidneys filter extra water and wastes out of your blood and make urine. Your kidneys control the amount of water and salt in your body, control the levels of important minerals in your body such as potassium, help control blood pressure, assist in making red blood cells, make and control hormones that keep your bones healthy, and filter certain medications and waste from your body.
Kidney disease means that the kidneys are damaged and can’t work as effectively as they normally should. This damage can cause wastes to build up in the body. It can also cause other problems that can harm your health.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) for most people occurs slowly over many years and is often due to diabetes or hypertension. However CKD can be caused by other underlying chronic diseases or from severe acute kidney injury. CKD is a growing problem. More than 20 million Americans may have CKD and many more are at risk. CKD becomes more common as you age. The major risk factors for CKD are diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease, and a family history of kidney disease. However there are numerous other conditions or causes of CKD which include taking some medications.
CKD has been staged into 5 different levels.
CKD stage 1 and 2: These are early stages of CKD and the kidney may still be functioning normally. At this stage you may have no symptoms and if you control your blood pressure and or blood sugar (if you have diabetes) you may never develop further decline in kidney function.
CKD Stage 3: At this stage your kidney function is decreasing and waste products can start to build up in the body. You will most likely have no symptoms at this stage. It is important to have kidney function monitored regularly and to take steps to help prevent further damage of the kidneys. This includes:
- Control of blood pressure and diabetes (if you have it) and be on the appropriate types of medications such as ACE-inhibitors or Angiotensin Receptor Blockers.
- Avoiding medications that can harm the kidneys such as NSAIDs (Motrin, Aleve, Advil, Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Celebrex as examples)
- Avoid phosphate containing solutions
- Avoid if able IV contrast used in CT scans or heart catherizations
- Smoking cessation, losing weight (if overweigtht), controlling cholesterol
If you are able to take good care of yourself you may be able to prevent progression of CKD in to later stages of disease.
CKD Stage 4 and 5: These are advanced stages of kidney disease and at these stages waste products can build up to high levels that can make you feel sick or make your blood pressure difficult to control. At this stage you will need to be followed closely by a kidney specialist (nephrologist). At this stage there is a high risk of progression of kidney disease to End-Stage Kidney Disease. You will need to discuss with your nephrologist the appropriate types of medications and diet. You will also start discussions about dialysis and kidney transplant. Symptoms to recognize at these stages include:
- Increased fatigue or weakness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite or metallic taste in your mouth
- Trouble concentrating
- Swelling or Shortness of breath
- Change in Urination