Nephrology (Renal Medicine)

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Introduction to Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Renal failure is also known as chronic kidney disease (CKD). It is a condition where your kidneys don’t function as well as they used to.

Written by Doctify Team 27/04/2020

What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

Renal failure is also known as chronic kidney disease (CKD). It is a condition where your kidneys don’t function as well as they used to. There are a number of conditions that can cause CKD, with each condition having a varied severity. Approximately 1 in 10 people some degree of CKD. It is more common in older people and is more common in women compared to men. Most cases of the condition are mild or moderate with very few cases progressing to complete renal failure.

What causes Chronic Kidney Disease?

There are a number of conditions that can cause damage to the kidneys and affect the function of the kidneys. In the UK, there are three common causes: Diabetes, high blood pressure and ageing kidneys. Approximately half of people over the age of 75 have some form of CKD.
Some other causes include: glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the glomeruli in the kidneys), renal artery stenosis (narrowing of the artery supplying the kidney with blood), blockages to passing urine and frequent urine infections

What are the symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease?

With mild to moderate CKD it is unlikely that you will experience any symptoms. Symptoms usually develop when you have stage 4 CKD or above. The symptoms generally start off being vague and nonspecific such as tiredness and generally not feeling well. The symptoms then progress with more severe CKD. These symptoms include: poor appetite, weight loss, dry skin, difficulty concentrating, muscle cramps, fluid retention causing swelling of the feet and ankles, puffiness around the eyes, frequent passing of urine, paleness and feeling sick. End stage renal failure (stage 5) can be fatal if not treated.

How is Chronic Kidney Disease treated?

CKD is diagnosed using a blood text to estimate the amount of blood being filtered by the kidneys over a given time period. This is known as the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR).

Stages 1-3 of CKD do not usually require any treatment. A nephrologist will usually treat stages 4 or 5. It is important to treat the underlying condition. This includes treating high glucose in diabetics, blood pressure, recurrent kidney infections and surgery for blockages to urine flow. It is also important to reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease as this is increased by
CKD. To relieve symptoms of CKD your doctor may suggest taking iron tablets for anaemia, taking calcium and other vitamin supplements, changing how much you drink and how much salt you take.

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