1 in 3 American adults is at high risk for developing kidney disease today. The risk increases to 1 in 2 over the course of a lifetime.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD), also known as chronic renal disease, is a progressive loss in renal function over a period of months or years. The symptoms of worsening kidney function are non-specific, and might include feeling generally unwell and experiencing a reduced appetite. Often, chronic kidney disease is diagnosed as a result of screening of people known to be at risk of kidney problems, such as those with high blood pressure or diabetes and those with a blood relative with chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease may also be identified when it leads to one of its recognized complications, such as cardiovascular disease, anemia or pericarditis. It is differentiated from acute kidney disease in that the reduction in kidney function must be present for over 3 months.
The Facts About Kidney Disease;
- 26 million American adults have CKD and millions of others are at increased risk.
- Early detection can help prevent the progression of kidney disease to kidney failure.
- Heart disease is the major cause of death for all people with CKD.
- Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is the best estimate of kidney function.
- Hypertension causes CKD and CKD causes hypertension.
- Persistent proteinuria (protein in the urine) means CKD is present.
- High risk groups include those with diabetes, hypertension and family history of kidney failure.
- African Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, American Indians and Seniors are at increased risk.
- Three simple tests can detect CKD: blood pressure, urine albumin and serum creatinine.
Chronic kidney disease is identified by a blood test for creatinine. Higher levels of creatinine indicate a lower glomerular filtration rate and as a result a decreased capability of the kidneys to excrete waste products. Creatinine levels may be normal in the early stages of CKD, and the condition is discovered if urinalysis (testing of a urine sample) shows that the kidney is allowing the loss of protein or red blood cells into the urine. To fully investigate the underlying cause of kidney damage, various forms of medical imaging, blood tests and often renal biopsy (removing a small sample of kidney tissue) are employed to find out if there is a reversible cause for the kidney malfunction.
Recent professional guidelines classify the severity of chronic kidney disease in five stages, with stage 1 being the mildest and usually causing few symptoms and stage 5 being a severe illness with poor life expectancy if untreated. Stage 5 CKD is often called end stage renal disease (ESRD), end stage renal failure (ESRF), or end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) and is synonymous with the now outdated terms chronic kidney failure (CKF) or chronic renal failure (CRF). There is no specific treatment unequivocally shown to slow the worsening of chronic kidney disease. If there is an underlying cause to CKD, such as vasculitis, this may be treated directly to slow the damage. In more advanced stages, treatments may be required for anemia and bone disease. Severe CKD requires renal replacement therapy, which may involve a form of dialysis, but ideally constitutes a kidney transplant.
What are the symptoms of CKD?
Most people may not have any severe symptoms until their kidney disease is advanced. However, you may notice that you:
- feel more tired and have less energy
- have trouble concentrating
- have a poor appetite
- have trouble sleeping
- have muscle cramping at night
- have swollen feet and ankles
- have puffiness around your eyes, especially in the morning
- have dry, itchy skin
- need to urinate more often, especially at night.
Anyone can get chronic kidney disease at any age. However, some people are more likely than others to develop kidney disease. You may have an increased risk for kidney disease if you:
- have diabetes
- have high blood pressure
- have a family history of kidney failure
- are older
- belong to a population group that has a high rate of diabetes or high blood pressure, such as African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian, Pacific Islanders, and American Indians.