Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a long-term (chronic) condition that affects the kidneys. The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located in the lower back. They filter waste products and extra fluid from the blood, and help control blood pressure, make red blood cells, and regulate the body’s minerals.
In CKD, the kidneys slowly lose their ability to function. As the disease progresses, waste products and extra fluid build up in the blood. This can lead to a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, anemia, weak bones, and nerve damage.
The most common causes of CKD are diabetes and high blood pressure. Other causes include:
- Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
- Kidney infections
- Polycystic kidney disease, a genetic condition that causes cysts to grow on the kidneys
- Certain medications, such as certain antibiotics and pain relievers
- Some inherited conditions
CKD is often asymptomatic in the early stages. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling in the hands and feet
- Changes in urination, such as increased frequency or decreased urine output
- Blood in the urine
- Muscle cramps
- Itchy skin
There is no cure for CKD, but there are treatments that can help slow the progression of the disease and manage the symptoms. Treatment may include:
- Medications to control blood pressure and blood sugar
- Dietary changes to reduce protein and salt intake
- Fluid restrictions
- Dialysis, a procedure that removes waste products and extra fluid from the blood
- Kidney transplant
If you have any of the risk factors for CKD, it is important to have your kidneys checked regularly. Early detection and treatment can help prevent or delay the progression of the disease.
Here are some tips for preventing CKD:
- Control your blood pressure and blood sugar.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise regularly.
- Don’t smoke.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis B and C.
If you have CKD, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. This includes taking your medications, following a healthy diet, and getting regular checkups. By taking care of your kidneys, you can help slow the progression of the disease and improve your quality of life.