Chronic Kidney Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Preventions

Chronic Kidney Disease: Causes, Symptoms & Prevention

chronic kidney disease
Contributed by: Abshar Faheem

Chronic kidney disease is often referred to as chronic renal disease, chronic kidney failure, or chronic renal failure that occurs when kidneys get damaged and stop working. The kidneys are considered to be one the most vital organs in the body that are tasked with:

  • Filtering blood of impurities
  • Removing waste from the body
  • Maintaining a balance of bodily fluids
  • Hormones regulation
  • Vitamin-D production
  • Red blood cells production
  • Removal of excess drugs from the system

Kidneys are tasked with eliminating waste products, balancing the body fluids, managing hormones, production of vitamin D to support healthy bones, reproducing red blood cells, and eliminating drugs from the body.

Our renal system consists of two kidneys, located on either side, just above the waist. Generally, if one kidney gets damaged, the other one still carries out its functions but the situation becomes serious when both kidneys get damaged. Chronic renal disease is lasting damage to the kidneys that is progressive and gets worse with time. It is also called end-stage renal disease at the point where the kidney failure reaches its last stage and you cannot survive without a kidney transplant, dialysis, or a combination of both.

Kidneys manage the complicated system of filtration in your body. Excess waste and fluid material are discharged from the blood and eliminated from the body. If your kidney abruptly stops working (within 1 to 2 days), it would most likely be diagnosed as acute kidney failure. The reduced outflow of blood to the kidneys, immediate injury to the kidneys, and urine going back to the kidneys cause acute kidney failure. If kidney malfunction persists for more than 3 months, it is called chronic kidney disease.

In chronic kidney disease or CKD, the damage to the kidneys happens over an extended period of time, and hence the symptoms take longer to exhibit. CKD is also categorized as a type of kidney abnormality that can be caused as an inherited condition (family history of CKD) or can also occur as a birth abnormality.

However, there are a host of illnesses that can contribute to the development of chronic kidney disease. These include:

  • Low or high blood sugar
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Restricted urine flow
  • Kidney illnesses
  • Malaria and yellow fever
  • Use of or abuse of illegal substances
  • Polycystic kidney disease or formation of kidney cysts (a primarily inherited kidney condition)
  • Inflammation of kidneys or Pyelonephritis
  • Immune system-related illnesses
  • Long-lasting viral illnesses
  • Kidney injury (accidents, fights, or any event that would have caused a significant blow/physical injury to the kidneys

Signs and symptoms of chronic kidney failure

Symptoms start showing up once chronic kidney disease reaches its advanced stage. You may experience  one or more symptoms of chronic kidney failure, which include:

  • Anemia
  • Metallic taste in the mouth
  • Pain in the chest
  • Skin dryness
  • Presence of blood while urinating
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decreased mental alertness Decreased levels of concentration and situational awareness.
  • Decreased urine output or excessive urination, especially at night
  • High blood pressure or hypertension
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Cramping and/or twitching of muscles
  • Sleep-related issues
  • Itching
  • Appetite loss
  • Headaches
  • Protein in urine
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Erectile dysfunction

Prevention of CKD

Chronic kidney failure is permanent and cannot be repaired or cured.  However, there are certain self-help tips that can help you care for your kidneys and keep them as functional as possible. Following are some steps that will help you to manage your kidneys when you reach acute or chronic kidney failure:

  • Controlling your blood sugar
  • Controlling your high blood pressure
  • Diet low in salt and fats
  • Regular exercise for at least 30 minutes every day
  • Weight management
  • Avoid smoking and tobacco
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid drugs, 
  • Avoid exposure to toxic metals, chemicals, and fuels such as lead

The bottom line

Chronic kidney failure is slow and progressive and can turn into permanent kidney failure over time. Early diagnosis can help you to reduce the dreadful symptoms, serious complications, and the disease from getting worse day by day. 

Some treatment will help you to restore your kidney function in case you have acute kidney failure. In chronic kidney failure, there is no cure for it. For treatment, your doctor will try to find out the cause behind your kidney failure. Your doctor may ask you for dialysis and/or kidney transplant for your survival.

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