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Chronic Kidney Disease

What is CKD?

CKD stands for chronic kidney disease.  This occurs when a person has experienced irreversible loss of kidney function.

What are the causes of kidney failure?

There are many causes of kidney failure. The most common causes of chronic kidney disease in the United States are diabetes and hypertension. Other common causes of kidney disease include polycystic kidney disease, lupus, and glomerulonephritis.

There are many other causes of kidney disease and your doctor can help you understand your risks for kidney failure.

How common is CKD?

More than 30 million Americans have CKD. This is expected to increase over the next several years. However, only about 2% of those with CKD will need dialysis or transplant

Can CKD be prevented?

Not all causes of CKD can be prevented, however, taking care of your overall health will help protect your kidneys. This includes exercising regularly, controlling weight and blood pressure, not smoking and seeing your doctor regularly.

How do you know if you have CKD?

Most people do not have any complaints with renal failure. Only blood and urine test will reveal renal failure when the problem first start. Very late signs of kidney failure include nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, swelling, poor appetite and fatigue.

What can I do to slow the progression of kidney disease?

While chronic kidney disease is a progressive disorder, a person can help slow the disease by keeping blood pressure under control. Also avoiding medications that cause or worsen kidney problems is helpful. Some of these medications include NSAIDS (ibuprofen, Goody powders, Aleve) and common antibiotics. It is best to ask your doctor if any medication is safe for people with kidney disease. Kidney disease can worsen when the body is stressed by other diseases. Therefore, it is recommended that people with kidney disease take preventive vaccines for the flu, pneumonia, and hepatitis B. Regular exercise and avoiding smoking will help limit the stress on the kidneys.

What types of test can I expect to have done after developing CKD?

Blood work is required to monitor the progression of kidney disease. Some of the most common blood test ordered are creatinine, BUN, eGFR, potassium, hemoglobin, phosphorus, albumin, calcium, and parathyroid hormone (PTH). Urine test to identify the presence of blood and protein and other abnormalities will periodically be needed. To help identify the cause and severity of the renal failure, a kidney biopsy may also be needed. A renal ultrasound is often ordered to verify that no obstruction is present is also needed.

What are some complications that occur when someone has CKD?

Due to the kidneys inability to do its countless tasks, people with CKD may also have problems with anemia (low blood count), high phosphorus, high potassium (hyperkalemia), secondary hyperparathyroidism, metabolic acidosis, and increased high blood pressure (hypertension). CKD also increases the risk for cardiovascular events such as heart attacks.

Do I have to be on a special diet when I have CKD?

Yes, people often have to be on a special diet. Every person may not need the same limitations in their diet. Close monitoring of labs help determine the restrictions needed. These restrictions need to be reviewed with your nephrologist. Common limitations for people with CKD include potassium rich foods, high phosphorus foods, and excessive fluid intake.

Are special medications needed in the treatment of CKD?

The most common medications are for blood pressure control. Medications that control blood pressure and help limit the protein loss from the kidney are commonly used. These medications are called ace inhibitors. Not all people can take these medications due to problems with potassium or cough. Other medications that may be needed include phosphorus binders, erythropoietin stimulating agents, vitamin D and other medications. All medications should be reviewed with your nephrologist each office visit.