Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Chronic kidney disease, also known as chronic renal failure, chronic renal disease, or chronic kidney failure, is a slow and progressive loss of kidney function over a period of several years. Eventually, the patient develops permanent kidney failure.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is much more common than people realize, and often goes undetected and undiagnosed until it is well advanced and kidney failure is imminent. It is not unusual for people to realize they have chronic kidney failure only when their kidney function is down to 25% of normal.

Symptoms

Symptoms develop slowly and aren’t specific to the disease. Some people have no symptoms at all and the condition is only diagnosed by a lab test.

CKD, through the first stages (1-3) usually has no symptoms, but people may experience the following:

Fatigue, high blood pressure, loss of appetite, malaise (general feeling of discomfort, illness, or unease), or water-electrolyte imbalance, nausea or vomiting

Diagnosis and Treatment

It is important that the first signs of potential CKD are identified early, when diagnosis and treatment are more viable. It is possible to slow down or even stop the progression of kidney disease today, but if CKD is due to one’s lifestyle, the full range of treatment options remain available, as long as the disease has not progressed too far. These, of course, include some change of lifestyle options:

  • Control of high blood pressure
  • Good management of diabetes, if present
  • Healthy diet, with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit
  • Reduced processed foods intake
  • Cutting back on salt and not taking substitutes

Early diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause and/or the institution of secondary preventive measures are imperative in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). These steps may delay, or possibly halt, progression of the disease. Early referral to a nephrologist is extremely important.

The medical care of patients with CKD should focus on the following:

  • Delaying or halting the progression of CKD
  • Diagnosing and treating the pathologic manifestations of CKD
  • Timely planning for long-term renal replacement therapy