Introduction to Kidney problems
Chronic kidney disease is a long term condition which mainly causes symptoms in its late stages.
What are Kidney problems?
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a long term condition which mainly causes symptoms in its late stages. It is diagnosed by blood and urine tests which are recommended for people with a family history of CKD, high blood pressure and diabetes. The condition affects the kidney’s abilities to carry out its normal functions of filtering blood, maintaining blood pressure and producing hormones for other metabolic actions. Those affected are usually between the ages of 65 and 74 years and it is also more common in those of South Asian and African descent due to the higher rates of high blood pressure.
What causes Kidney problems?
High blood pressure and diabetes are the two most common causes of kidney disease. High blood pressure puts a strain on the small blood vessels and stops them filtering blood efficiently. Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to a build up of glucose in the blood. The high glucose levels can damage the filtering system of the kidneys thus affecting their efficiency.
Other conditions such as glomerulonephritis, pyelonephritis, polycystic kidney disease, long term use of NSAID class of drugs and kidney stones can also lead to CKD.
What are the symptoms of Kidney problems?
Symptoms include blood in the urine, tiredness, swollen ankles, hands or feet, shortness of breath and nausea. If the kidneys continue to fail they can progress to kidney failure, the symptoms of this including weight loss, increasing need to urinate, muscle cramps, high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction in men.
How are Kidney problems treated?
There is no cure for CKD but treatment can help alleviate symptoms and slow or prevent progression of the condition and therefore reduce the risk of kidney failure. Treatment involves lifestyle changes and medication to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Lifestyle changes include stopping smoking, eating a healthy diet, restricting salt intake, not using NSAIDs, losing weight if you’re obese and regular exercise. These changes act to reduce blood pressure which in turn slows or prevents the progression of CKD. Medication for hypertension includes ACE inhibitors or angiotensin two receptor blockers (ARB). Statins are the common form of treatment used to lower cholesterol.