What is Chronic Kidney Disease?
Chronic kidney disease is a condition characterized by the gradual loss of kidney function over time.
Chronic kidney disease develops when the kidneys have been damaged by conditions or diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), or inflammation of the kidneys’ filtration anatomy (glomerulonephritis or vasculitis).
Early detection of chronic kidney disease is important to slow the progression of CKD and a nephrologist should be consulted. While you typically cannot reverse damage, in stages 1 and 2, it is possible to prevent further damage and maintain kidney function. Changes in lifestyle and diet, along with regular checkups, can help keep the kidneys from further deterioration. Stages 3, 4 or 5 CKD are when your kidney function is moderately to severely reduced. During these stages, it is most likely when you will experience physical changes. If you have not been evaluated by a nephrologist, it is extremely important that you make an appointment with a nephrologist, like the experienced, reputable physicians at Dallas Nephrology Associates.
What are the functions of the kidneys?
The kidneys remove waste, drugs, and extra fluid from the body through the urine. In addition, they release hormones that help to:
- Regulate blood pressure
- Promote strong bones
- Prevent anemia by increasing red blood cells
- Maintain the correct balance of important electrolytes in your blood such as potassium, sodium, phosphorus and calcium
What causes CKD?
The two most common causes are diabetes (types 1 and 2) and high blood pressure. Other causes include:
- Glomerulonephritis or vasculitis – inflammation of the glomeruli (the kidneys’ filtering units) or the blood vessels
- Proteinuria or albuminuria – abnormal amounts of protein in the urine, specifically due to protein overproduction. (Proteinuria can also be a symptom of CKD.)
- Polycystic kidney disease and other inherited kidney diseases
- Systemic lupus erythematosus and other autoimmune disorders
- Chronic kidney infections
- Hydronephrosis – swelling of the kidney which causes an obstruction of the flow of urine from the kidney
- Kidney stones