Kidneys are vital for your body. Well-functioning kidneys remove waste and excess fluids from your blood, keep important minerals in balance, and help regulate blood pressure, produce red blood cells and vitamin D. In other words, your kidneys make sure your body stays healthy and balanced.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition in which your kidneys gradually lose their ability to help your body remove waste and fluid from your blood. When this happens, harmful wastes and fluids begin to build up in your body, making you feel unwell and out of balance. Although chronic kidney disease (CKD) is not curable, treatment can help slow its progression, control symptoms and enable you to live a full life.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects both of your kidneys at the same time. While your body gives you two kidneys to help filter waste, one is not a “back-up” for the other. They work in unison to cleanse your body. When you are diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD), it means that both of your kidneys are affected and cannot properly filter waste and fluid from your body.
What Symptoms Will Experience?
As all bodies are unique, symptoms may vary from person to person. You may not notice symptoms until your chronic kidney disease (CKD) is quite advanced. That is why kidney disease is sometimes referred to as a “silent” condition.
Even though symptoms vary by individual, some are more common than others. One or more of the following symptoms may mean your kidneys are no longer working properly:
- May feel weaker or more tired than usual
- Hands or your feet may swell
- May experience unexpected shortness of breath
- May not have a big appetite, potentially causing you to lose weight
- May have an unpleasant taste in mouth
- May feel nauseated or need to vomit
- May not be able to sleep as well as usual
- Skin may itch unexpectedly
- Muscles may hurt or cramp
- Skin might appear darker than normal
If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, you should talk to your clinician.
What are the main causes of chronic kidney disease?
Diabetes: Diabetes occurs when your blood sugar remains too high. Over time, unmanaged blood sugar can cause damage to many organs in your body, including the kidneys and heart and blood vessels, nerves, and eyes.
High blood pressure: High blood pressure occurs when your blood pressure against the walls of your blood vessels increases. If uncontrolled or poorly controlled, high blood pressure can be a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes, and chronic kidney disease. Also, chronic kidney disease can cause high blood pressure.
How to prevent CKD
If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, the best way to prevent CKD is to work with your doctor to control your blood sugar and blood pressure. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two most common causes of CKD.
Other ways to help protect your kidneys are to:
- Talk to your doctor about getting tested if you have any risk factors for CKD.
- Make healthy choices, such as eating healthy foods and being active.
How to slow the damage to the kidneys?
Damage to your kidneys cannot be reversed, but you can keep it from getting worse. By following your treatment plan and making healthy life changes, you can help keep your kidneys working for as long as possible.
Take these steps to slow the damage to your kidneys:
- Work with your doctor to manage diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Take all of your prescription medicines as your doctor tells you.
- Have visits with a kidney doctor (nephrologist) to check your blood levels and overall health.
- Follow a kidney-friendly eating plan. A dietitian can help you make a plan that works for you.
- Be active for 30 minutes most days of the week.
- Drink less alcohol. The healthy guidelines for drinking alcohol are:
- For men: No more than two drinks per day
- For women: No more than one drink per day
- Quit smoking or using tobacco.