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What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

Chronic kidney disease is when the kidney does not work as well as it should for more than 3 months.  It can be due to any cause, though the term, chronic kidney disease, usually refers to loss of function of the kidney rather than the development of a tumour.  Chronic kidney disease is broken into 5 stages, ranging from normal kidney function to very severely impaired kidney function that requires dialysis.  This is measured by looking at the filtration rate of the kidney by measuring creatinine in the blood and looking for protein in the urine.  By using these numbers your doctors can assess the level of kidney disease you have.

There are several reasons for the development of chronic kidney disease:

  • Age
  • Medications
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Chronic Dehydration
  • Vascular Disease
    • Hypertension (elevated blood pressure)
    • Diabetes
  • Cystic Disease (polycystic kidney disease)

How do I know if I have it?

Chronic kidney disease is common with about 1% of the population have it.  It often has no symptoms early and relies on you and your doctor regularly screening for the condition.  This is done by a urine and blood test. 

The risks factors for chronic kidney disease are like the other chronic health conditions:

  • Smoking
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Decreased physical activity

There are some things you cannot change to alter your risk of developing chronic kidney disease

  • advancing age,
  • genetic predisposition,
  • previous kidney disease or injury,
  • low birth weight,
  • male gender,
  • family history

There are those at an increased risk for chronic kidney disease and they should be screened and assessed more often.  They include:

  • Diabetics
  • People with cardiovascular disease
  • People with hypertension

How do I fix it?

Unfortunately, most chronic kidney disease is progressive in nature.  There are things that can be done to assist in slowing the progression of the disease such as:

  • Modifying lifestyle
    • Eating a healthy diet
    • No smoking
    • No drinking alcohol
    • Regular exercise
    • Weight loss
    • Good hydration
  • Modifying Medical Conditions
    • Controlling blood pressure
    • Stabilising Diabetes
    • Managing cardiovascular issues
    • Review medications
      • Ensuring the correct one is used
      • Stopping ones that may make things worse
    • Specialist review: review by a nephrologist to assist with identifying the cause and managing the disease process

Where can I get more information?