Chronic kidney disease refers to lasting damage to the kidneys that can worsen over time. Currently, millions of people worldwide are living with kidney disease, and if the damage is particularly bad, it can lead to kidney failure or end-of-stage renal disease (ESRD). If kidney disease is so advanced that the kidneys fail, the patient will need a transplant or dialysis. Anybody can get kidney disease, but some people are at higher risk than others, including those with diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Having a family member with kidney disease may mean that you are at a higher risk of developing the condition, and it is more common in people over the age of 60.
Kidney disease will often develop slowly and many patients do not experience symptoms until the kidneys are badly damaged. In the late stages, symptoms are often caused by toxins, waste and additional fluid build-up in the body. Common signs and symptoms include:
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Urinating too often or not enough
- Swollen feet and ankles
Signs of acute kidney failure, when the kidneys stop working suddenly, include:
- Back pain
- Abdominal pain
Of course, the above symptoms can be a sign of something less serious, but if you’re experiencing one or more, you should check in with your doctor as soon as possible.
The good news is that if you are not suffering from kidney disease, there is plenty you can do to keep it that way. Diabetes and high blood pressure are some of the most common causes of kidney disease, so if you suffer from either of these two, work with your doctor to keep your blood pressure and blood sugar under control.
The best way to prevent kidney disease is by living a healthy lifestyle. You should stick to a diet that is low in fat and salt, and try to exercise for at least thirty minutes most days of the week – even a short walk is better than no exercise at all. If you are a smoker, quitting is the best thing that you can do for your health; speak to your doctor about nicotine replacement therapies that might help. And, keep your alcohol intake to a moderate amount.
Unfortunately, damage to your kidneys is usually permanent. However, whilst you may not be able to completely restore them, you can take steps to make sure that they are healthy for as long as possible and prevent any further damage being done. Following the above steps for prevention, particularly with your diet, is key to keeping your kidneys from suffering any further damage if you have been diagnosed with kidney disease.
There are also several medication options that you may be eligible for to help protect your kidneys – Westside Renal Services can help with a treatment plan that’s right for you. By catching kidney disease early and taking all the necessary steps to restore your kidney health, you may be able to prevent kidney failure and get any symptoms you have under control.
Chronic kidney disease can lead to kidney failure if left unchecked, so if you’re worried that you may be suffering from it, speak to your doctor as soon as possible.