Signs You May Have Kidney Disease
More than 37 million American adults are living with kidney disease and most dont know it. There are a number of physical signs of kidney disease, but sometimes people attribute them to other conditions. Also, those with kidney disease tend not to experience symptoms until the very late stages, when the kidneys are failing or when there are large amounts of protein in the urine. This is one of the reasons why only 10% of people with chronic kidney disease know that they have it, says Dr. Joseph Vassalotti, Chief Medical Officer at the National Kidney Foundation.
While the only way to know for sure if you have kidney disease is to get tested, Dr. Vassalotti shares 10 possible signs you may have kidney disease. If youre at risk for kidney disease due to high blood pressure, diabetes, a family history of kidney failure or if youre older than age 60, its important to get tested annually for kidney disease. Be sure to mention any symptoms youre experiencing to your healthcare practitioner.
What Causes Kidney Failure
When the kidneys lose function suddenly , its called acute kidney failure . This type of kidney failure is often temporary. Common causes of acute kidney failure can include:
- Autoimmune kidney diseases
- A urinary tract obstruction
- Uncontrolled systemic disease like heart or liver disease
Kidney failure usually doesnt happen overnight. Chronic kidney disease refers to a group of health conditions that affect how well your kidneys function over time. If left untreated, chronic kidney disease can lead to kidney failure.
The biggest causes of kidney failure from chronic kidney disease are:
- Diabetes: Unmanaged diabetes can lead to uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Consistently high blood sugar can damage the bodys organs, including the kidneys.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure means blood travels through your bodys blood vessels with increased force. Over time, untreated high blood pressure levels can damage the kidneys tissue.
Other causes of chronic kidney disease include:
- Polycystic kidney disease, a hereditary condition where cysts grow inside your kidneys.
- Glomerular diseases, such as glomerulonephritis, which affect how well the kidneys can filter waste.
- Lupus and other autoimmune diseases that can affect multiple body systems.
How Can I Live Well With Kidney Failure
Doing well with kidney failure is a challenge. You will feel better if you
- stick to your treatment schedule
- review your medicines with your health care provider at every visit and take your medicines as prescribed
- work with a dietitian to develop an eating plan that includes foods you enjoy eating while also helping your health
- stay activetake a walk or do some other physical activity that you enjoy
- stay in touch with your friends and family
Treatment with dialysis or transplant will help you feel better and live longer. Your health care team will work with you to create a treatment plan to address any health problems you have. Your treatment will include steps you can take to maintain your quality of life and activity level.
Your eating plan plays an important role. When you have kidney failure, what you eat and drink may help you maintain a healthy balance of salts, minerals, and fluids in your body.
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How Do Doctors Treat Kidney Failure
You will need to see a nephrologist . Your nephrologist will talk with you about your treatment choices, which include:
- Dialysis, which is a treatment that uses a machine to clean your blood
- A kidney transplant:
- , which is a surgery to give you a healthy kidney from someone who has just died
- Living donor kidney transplant, which is a surgery to give you a healthy kidney from someone who is still alive
What Treatment Is Available
The initial treatment for acute kidney failure is usually intravenous fluids . These fluids are used to restore good hydration and to flush out the substances that the kidneys are supposed to be removing from the bloodstream. Urine production is monitored throughout the IV fluid therapy as a decrease in urine can indicate the need for other therapies. Diuretics are the most common medications used when attempting to increase urine output.
In addition to fluid treatment, other medications are commonly used. Antacids such as Pepcid or Zantac are given because kidney failure frequently causes stomach ulcers. If ulcers are bleeding, medications to coat the ulcer may be prescribed. Antibiotics are given if the cause of the kidney failure is known or suspected to be infection. Because kidney failure is a big drain on the bodys resources and because pets with kidney failure frequently refuse to eat, a temporary tube may be recommended.
Hemodialysis involves putting a very large IV catheter in a vein and using the catheter to remove part of the blood at a time. The blood is sent through a machine that cleans the blood. Hemodialysis is effective, but only a handful of veterinary hospitals are equipped to do hemodialysis. Both peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis are generally very expensive.
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Can Kidney Failure Be Prevented
While kidney failure from chronic kidney disease cant be reversed, you can do many things to help preserve the kidney function you have today. Healthy habits and routines may slow down how quickly kidneys lose their functional abilities.
If you have chronic kidney disease or kidney failure, youll want to:
- Monitor your kidney function, with your doctors help.
- Keep your blood sugar levels under control, if you have diabetes.
- Keep your blood pressure levels in a normal range.
- Avoid smoking.
- Make healthy diet choices, such as limiting foods high in protein and sodium.
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How Do I Discuss My Decision With My Family And Friends
Many people find it difficult to talk to loved ones about stopping treatment, and they worry about how others will feel and react. Although you may find it hard at first, the best approach is to discuss your feelings openly with your loved ones. You may wish to have members of your health care team present when you speak with them.
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Symptom Control In Advanced Kidney Disease
Patients with AKD have significant symptom control needs, with a symptom profile similar to patients with advanced cancer. The most common symptoms include fatigue, breathlessness, pain and itch . There are also significant psychological, social and spiritual needs, including coming to terms with their changing role, increasing dependency and financial loss.
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How Does Older Age Affect My Kidneys
Aging is a normal and natural process that affects all parts of the body, including the kidneys. But over time, our kidneys change in the way they look and in the way they work. Just as we see wrinkles and age spots on our skin, so too do the kidneys show changes that can be seen with a microscope.
The kidneys have tiny filters called nephrons that clean all the blood in our body. We’re born with about a million of these units in each kidney. But as we get older, we lose some nephrons, and some other nephrons might not work as well as when younger.
Loss of nephrons will affect the estimated glomerular filtration rate , a blood test that shows our level of kidney function . Please note that a decline in kidney function is normal as we get older and may not always be a sign of kidney disease.
Having less nephrons and less kidney function makes it harder for the kidneys to handle stress. For example, diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure place more stress on older kidneys. The effects of this stress are greater for older kidneys and can cause more kidney damage than in younger kidneys.
Older kidneys also have more chance to suffer from acute kidney injury . AKI is kidney damage that happens very quickly. It happens because of problems like using too high a dose of a certain drug, or not drinking enough fluid on a very hot day.
Why Is Determining The Speed Of Ckd Progression Important
As the above studies show, there is a myriad of factors that can contribute to how fast chronic kidney disease progresses. This is complicated by the influence that genetics, related medical conditions, age, sex, lifestyle, and other various health aspects can have on a studys findings. As a result, our knowledge of the disease and our ability to make accurate predictions about its trajectory remains imperfect, despite continued progress.
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Diabetes And Kidney Failure
Without management, high blood sugar can damage your kidneys. The damage can worsen over time.
Diabetic nephropathy, or kidney damage caused by type 1 or type 2 diabetes, cant be reversed. Managing your blood sugar and blood pressure may help prevent or limit kidney damage. Taking medications as prescribed by your doctor is important, too.
If you have diabetes, your doctor will likely perform regular screenings to monitor for kidney failure.
Your risk for diabetic nephropathy increases the longer you live with diabetes.
Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure. About one-third of adults with diabetes have kidney disease, according to the
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Diagnosis Of Kidney Failure
A number of tests can be used to measure kidney function. If CKD is found, tests may be used to determine:
- the cause of the kidney damage
- the amount of kidney damage
- treatment options.
- blood tests to establish the estimated glomerular filtration rate , which measures how well the kidneys filter wastes from the blood
- urine tests for albumin, blood, glucose and red or white blood cells
- a blood pressure check
- ultrasound, computed tomography , x-ray and other imaging techniques to take pictures of your kidneys
- a kidney biopsy, where a needle is used to remove a small piece of kidney tissue for examination under a microscope.
Are You Afraid Of Kidney Failure
These tools are acute kidney injury symptoms checker and chronic kidney disease symptoms checker. They gather the most important signs, symptoms, and risk factors for developing both conditions. Therefore, they will determine for anybody who uses it the likelihood of having a kidney disorder. The most important feature of these tools is that they are free and would only take you a few minutes.
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Preventing Chronic Kidney Disease
You are at risk for kidney disease if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or a family history of kidney failure. If you have risk factors, get tested for kidney disease and protect your kidneys by making healthy food choices, being more active, aiming for a healthy weight, and managing health conditions that cause kidney damage.
Can I Be Active With Kidney Failure
Yes. Physical activity is an important part of staying healthy when you have kidney failure. Being active makes your muscles, bones, and heart stronger. Physical activity also makes your blood travel through your body faster so your body gets more oxygen. Your body needs oxygen to use the energy from food.
You may find that physical activity can also improve your mood and make you feel better.
Talk with your doctor before you start a new exercise routine. Start slowly, with easier activities such as walking at a normal pace or gardening. Work up to harder activities such as walking briskly. Aim to be active on as many days as possible.
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