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Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) By Robert Foster

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Approximately twenty-six million people suffer from some form of chronic kidney disease, and millions more are at risk.  Chronic kidney disease affects kidney functions and prevents them from doing their routine jobs.  When your kidneys are denied their job, excess wastes will build up in the body’s blood causing sick feelings.  High blood pressure, weak bones, poor nutrition, and nerve damage can result if there are no means of early detection.  Chronic kidney disease can also cause heart disease.  Not detecting chronic kidney disease in the early stages will potentially lead to complete kidney failure resulting in dialysis and transplant.  When there is any type of abnormal functioning for longer than a three-month period, it is defined as chronic kidney disease.

The kidney’s main functions are; to remove wastes and drugs from the body, balance the body’s fluids, release hormones which regulate blood pressure, produce an active form of vitamin D which will promote healthy bones, and control the production of red blood cells.  The kidney also regulates the body’s salt and potassium.  Each person has two kidneys located on either side of the spine below the rib cage.  The kidneys filter approximately two hundred quarts of fluid every twenty-four hours.

One of the main causes of chronic kidney disease is high blood pressure.  Also, those who have been diagnosed as diabetic are at risk of chronic kidney disease.  People with high blood pressure and diabetes make up two-thirds of the chronic kidney disease cases.  So not only does high blood pressure cause chronic kidney disease, it is also a result.  Other causes of chronic kidney disease include glomerulonephritis, which causes inflammation of the kidney’s filtering units, polycystic kidney disease which is often inherited, malformations that can be formed before birth, lupus, frequent kidney stones, tumors, enlarged prostate gland, and repeated urinary infections.

Chronic kidney disease can affect people of all ages, however, the chances increase as age increases.  Severe symptoms are uncommon during the early stages of chronic kidney disease.  However, some signs to look for include lack of energy, trouble concentrating, loss of or no appetite, muscle cramps during sleep, insomnia, swollen feet and ankles, dry and itchy skin, frequent urination, and puffiness appearing around the eyes.

Early detection is essential to keep chronic kidney disease from progressing to kidney failure.  Frequent blood pressure measurements are the first step to detection.  A person may also have a urine test performed to check for proper amounts of protein.  If there are excessive amounts of protein in the urine, this could be the result of damaged kidneys.  A test for blood creatinine is another test for detecting chronic kidney disease.  This test is used to calculate the glomerular filtration rate which determines how much the kidney is functioning.

While chronic kidney disease is not one hundred percent preventable, maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help.  Always follow the advice of your general practitioner and maintain frequent checkups.  Avoiding tobacco products will help prevent cardiovascular and heart diseases that may result in kidney diseases.  Practice healthy eating habits by avoiding foods that are high in saturated fats, and eating a proper amount of foods that are high in unsaturated fats such as oily fish, avocados, and nuts.  Finally, since high blood pressure is a leading cause of chronic kidney failure, daily exercise will lower your blood pressure which will help protect you from the development of chronic kidney failure.




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