The Kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs that lie on either side of the spine in the lower middle of the back. Each kidney weighs about ¼ pound and contains approximately One Million Filtering Units called Nephrons. Each Nephron is made of a Glomerulus and a Tubule. The Glomerulus is a miniature filtering or sieving device while the tubule is a tiny tube like structure attached to the Glomerulus. The Kidneys are connected to the urinary bladder by tubes called ureters. Urine is stored in the urinary bladder until the bladder is emptied by urinating. The bladder is connected to the outside of the body by another tube like structure called the urethra. The main function of the Kidneys is to remove waste products and excess water from the blood. The kidneys process about 200 liters of blood every day and produce about two liters of urine. The waste products are generated from normal metabolic processes including the breakdown of active tissues, ingested foods, and other substances. The kidneys allow consumption of a variety of foods, drugs, vitamins and supplements, additives, and excess fluids without worry that toxic by-products will build up to harmful levels. The kidney also plays a major role in regulating levels of various minerals such as Calcium, Sodium and Potassium in the blood. The kidneys also produce certain hormones that have important functions in the body, including the following:
- Active form of Vitamin D, which regulates absorption of calcium and phosphorus from foods, promoting formation of strong bone.
- Erythropoietin (EPO), which stimulates the bone marrow to produce red blood cells.
- Renin, which regulates blood volume and blood pressure.
Chronic Kidney Disease includes conditions that damage your kidneys and decrease their ability to keep you healthy by doing the jobs listed. If Kidney Disease gets worse, wastes can build to high levels in your blood and make you feel sick. You may develop complications like high blood pressure, anemia (low blood count), weak bones, poor nutritional health and nerve damage. Also, Kidney Disease increases your risk of having heart and blood vessel disease. These problems may happen slowly over a long period of time. Chronic Kidney Disease may be caused by diabetes, high blood pressure and other disorders. Early detection and treatment can often keep Chronic Kidney Disease from getting worse. As kidney disease progresses, it may eventually lead to Kidney Failure, which requires dialysis or a Kidney Transplant.
Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease or Chronic Renal Disease
Many people who have chronic kidney disease don’t know it, because the early signs can be very subtle. It can take many years to go from chronic kidney disease (CKD) to kidney failure. Some people with CKD live out their lives without ever reaching kidney failure.
- Changes in Urination. Kidneys make urine, so when the kidneys are failing, the urine may change.
- You may have to get up at night to urinate.
- Urine may be foamy or bubbly. You may urinate more often, or in greater amounts than usual, with pale urine.
- You may urinate less often, or in smaller amounts than usual with dark colored urine.
- Your urine may contain blood.
- You may feel pressure or have difficulty urinating.
Failing kidneys don’t remove extra fluid, which builds up in your body causing swelling in the legs, ankles, feet, face, and/or hands.
Healthy kidneys make a hormone called erythropoietin (a-rith’-ro-po’-uh-tin) that tells your body to make oxygen-carrying red blood cells. As the kidneys fail, they make less erythropoietin. With fewer red blood cells to carry oxygen, your muscles and brain become tired very quickly. This condition is called anemia, and it can be treated.
4. Skin Rash/Itching
Kidneys remove wastes from the bloodstream. When the kidneys fail, the buildup of wastes in your blood can cause severe itching.
5. Metallic Taste in Mouth/Ammonia Breath
A buildup of wastes in the blood (called uremia) can make food taste different and cause bad breath. You may also notice that you stop liking to eat meat, or that you are losing weight because you just don’t feel like eating.
6. Nausea and Vomiting
A severe buildup of wastes in the blood (uremia) can also cause nausea and vomiting. Loss of appetite can lead to weight loss.
7. Shortness of Breath
Trouble catching your breath can be related to the kidneys in two ways. First, extra fluid in the body can build up in the lungs. And second, anemia (a shortage of oxygen-carrying red blood cells) can leave your body oxygen-starved and short of breath.
8. Feeling Cold
Anemia can make you feel cold all the time, even in a warm room.
9. Dizziness and Trouble Concentrating
Anemia related to kidney failure means that your brain is not getting enough oxygen. This can lead to memory problems, trouble with concentration, and dizziness.
10. Leg/Flank Pain
Some people with kidney problems may have pain in the back or side related to the affected kidney. Polycystic kidney disease, which causes large, fluid-filled cysts on the kidneys and sometimes the liver, can cause pain.
Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease
Although Chronic Kidney Disease sometimes results from primary diseases of the kidneys themselves, the major causes are diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus cause a condition called diabetic nephropathy, which is the leading cause of kidney disease in the United States.
- High blood pressure (hypertension), if not controlled, can damage the kidneys over time.
Treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease or Chronic Renal Disease
Controlling blood pressure will slow further kidney damage.
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) are used most often.
- The goal is to keep blood pressure at or below 130/80 mmHg
Other treatments may include:
- Special medicines called phosphate binders, to help prevent phosphorous levels from becoming too high
- Treatment for anemia, such as extra iron in the diet, iron pills, iron through a vein (intravenous iron) special shots of a medicine called erythropoietin, and blood transfusions
- Extra calcium and vitamin D (always talk to your doctor before taking)
Prevention of kidneys, heart disease and stroke
- Do not smoke.
- Eat meals that are low in fat and cholesterol.
- Get regular exercise (talk to your doctor or nurse before starting to exercise).
- Take drugs to lower your cholesterol, if needed.
- Keep your blood sugar under control.
- Avoid eating too much salt or potassium.
Always talk to your kidney doctor before taking any over-the-counter medicine, vitamin, or herbal supplement. Make sure all of the doctors you visit know you have chronic kidney disease.
Chronic Kidney Disease Diet
- You may need to limit fluids.
- Your health care provider may recommend a low-protein diet.
- You may have to restrict salt, potassium, phosphorous, and other electrolytes.
- It is important to get enough calories when you are losing weight
- Chronic kidney disease a warning sign independent of hypertension or diabetes (eurekalert.org)
- Kidney Disease (healthinessbox.com)
- Renal Failure or Kidney Failure formerly called Renal Insufficiency (healthinessbox.com)