Kidneys are multi-tasking, complex, vital organs. Their main function is to filter waste out of your blood. They also remove extra fluid from your blood - which becomes urine, and they control blood pressure. Kidneys help make red blood cells, too. Plus, they regulate electrolytes and activate vitamin D.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), also called chronic kidney failure, is the gradual loss of kidney function. When chronic kidney disease reaches an advanced stage, dangerous levels of fluid, electrolytes and wastes build up in your body. Chronic kidney disease can progress to end-stage kidney failure (aka: end-stage renal disease (ESRD)), which is fatal without artificial filtering (dialysis) or a kidney transplant.
However, if your kidneys stop working suddenly, you have what doctors call acute kidney failure (or acute renal failure). It can happen over just a few hours or days.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of kidney disease are often generalized and nonspecific, meaning they can also be caused by other illnesses. Diagnosable signs and symptoms may not appear until irreversible damage has occurred. 30 million American adults have CKD and millions of others are at increased risk.
The Two Main Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease are Diabetes and High Blood Pressure
The two main causes of Chronic Kidney Disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. These two diagnoses are responsible for up to two-thirds of the cases. Uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure) becomes a vicious cycle, because hypertension causes CKD and CKD causes hypertension.
One Critical Step You Can Take to Treat Kidney Disease Is to Control Your Blood Pressure.
Other Factors That Increase Risk of CKD
Being African, Asian, or Native American
Abnormal kidney structure
Family history of kidney disease
CKD Affects Every Part of Your Body
Complications of CKD May Include:
Fluid retention, which could lead to swelling in your arms and legs, high blood pressure, or fluid in your lungs (pulmonary edema)
A sudden rise in potassium levels in your blood, which could impair your heart's ability to function and may be life-threatening
Heart and blood vessel disease
Weak bones and an increased risk of bone fractures
Irreversible damage to kidneys (end-stage kidney disease), eventually requiring either dialysis or a kidney transplant for survival
Decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, or reduced fertility
Damage to your central nervous system, which can cause difficulty concentrating, personality changes, or seizures
Decreased immune response, which makes you more vulnerable to infection
Pericarditis, an inflammation of the saclike membrane that envelops your heart
Pregnancy complications that carry risks for the mother and the developing fetus
There are tests your doctor can perform to determine your stage of kidney disease. The earlier kidney disease is detected, the better the chance of slowing or stopping its progression.
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