Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a progressive medical condition that slowly impairs the kidneys’ ability to perform everyday functions. It requires vigilance and care to control its progression and maintain good health. In this blog, we’ll look at the basics of CKD, including its definition, symptoms, causes, and the possible relevant information to share with your doctor.
What Is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?
Chronic kidney disease is a long-term condition in which kidney function gradually declines. It is usually detected when kidney damage or a reduction in functioning has been observed for three months or longer. The disorder’s progression can range from minor issues to more severe matters and, should it remain untreated, could eventually result in kidney failure.
Chronic Kidney Disease: The Symptoms of CKD?
Chronic kidney disease symptoms may be minor or not even present. However, as time passes and CKD advances, several indications can occur, such as:
► Fatigue and weariness
► Oedema, or swelling of the hands, feet, or ankles
► Urination patterns that have changed, such as an increase in frequency or a decrease in output
► Urine with blood
► Chronic itching
► Muscle twitches or cramps
► Reduced appetite
► Nausea and diarrhoea
► Difficulty focusing or mental fog
► Sleeping issues
► Hypertension, or high blood pressure
By recognising these symptoms, individuals can seek timely medical evaluation and take appropriate measures to manage chronic kidney disease condition effectively.
Chronic Kidney Disease: What are the possible causes of CKD?
When managing CKD, it’s vital to be aware of the common causes and factors that can contribute to this condition. There are numerous factors and risks that could possibly associated with the development of CKD, and understanding these is key.
Diabetes is a significant contributing factor to CKD. When glucose levels in the blood remain abnormally high for an extended time, it can damage the small vessels of the kidneys, which is referred to as diabetic nephropathy. This type of CKD is among the most common causes of kidney failure.
One of the most common reasons for chronic kidney failure is hypertension. When hypertension persists over a long period, it taxes the kidneys’ blood vessels to the point where they can no longer function properly. This decline in kidney performance further exacerbates issues with high blood pressure since the organs are essential in regulating it.
Glomerulonephritis is an illness that results in the inflammation of the glomeruli, which are microscopic filtering units inside the kidneys. This condition can stem from numerous sources, such as autoimmune ailments, medications and infections. Over time, this inflammation and injury to the glomeruli can lead to decreased kidney functionality.
Polycystic Kidney Disease
Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is an inherited condition characterised by the growth of fluid-filled cysts in the kidneys. These cysts gradually replace healthy kidney tissue, impairing kidney function. PKD is a progressive condition and one of the most common genetic causes of CKD.
Urinary Tract Obstruction
Issues like kidney stones, tumours, or an enlarged prostate can cause urinary tract obstructions. When urine cannot flow freely, it can cause damage to the kidneys and contribute to CKD.
Certain autoimmune disorders, such as lupus or autoimmune vasculitis, can affect the kidneys and lead to CKD. The immune system mistakenly attacks the kidneys, causing inflammation and damage to the kidney tissue.
Other factors contributing to CKD development include:
► Chronic kidney infections.
► Long-term use of certain medications.
► Kidney artery narrowing (renal artery stenosis).
► Congenital kidney problems.
The development of chronic kidney disease is a complex process influenced by various factors. In addition to genetic predisposition, environmental aspects may contribute to an individual’s susceptibility to the condition. Thus, identifying the roots of CKD can help healthcare professionals create personalised chronic kidney disease treatment plans and preventive measures to address its progression efficiently.
When Should I Do?
Below are some considerations if you think you are undergoing symptoms of possible chronic kidney disease:
► Persistent Symptoms: If experiencing persistent symptoms such as fatigue, swelling in the legs, changes in urination patterns (such as increased frequency or decreased output), or unexplained weight loss, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional. These symptoms can be indicative of kidney dysfunction and should not be ignored.
► High Blood Pressure or Diabetes: Regular kidney monitoring is essential for those with a history of high blood pressure or diabetes. These conditions can significantly impact kidney function and increase the risk of CKD. Regular check-ups with your doctor can help detect any signs of kidney damage early on.
► Family History: If you have a family history of kidney disease, being proactive about your kidney health is crucial. Certain kidney conditions, such as polycystic kidney disease, can be hereditary. Inform your doctor about your family history so that appropriate screening and monitoring can be done.
► Existing Conditions: If you have underlying medical conditions that can affect kidney function, such as autoimmune disorders or urinary tract abnormalities, it is crucial to stay vigilant about your kidney health. Regular check-ups and monitoring can help detect changes in kidney function and guide appropriate management.
► Medications and Kidney Function: Some medicines can adversely affect the kidneys. Regular monitoring of kidney function is crucial if you are taking long-term medications, particularly those that may harm the kidneys (such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or certain antibiotics). Consult your doctor if you have any concerns about the impact of your medications on your kidneys.
► Declining Kidney Function: If you have been diagnosed with CKD and are undergoing regular blood or urine tests to monitor kidney function, staying in close communication with your doctor is crucial. Suppose you notice a noticeable decline in your kidney function based on these tests. In that case, it is essential to consult your healthcare provider promptly.
If you have any concerns about your kidney health or suspect you may have kidney disease, it is best to consult with a healthcare provider or Singapore kidney specialist for a thorough evaluation and appropriate guidance.