Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a progressive condition characterized by a gradual loss of kidney function over time. The kidneys play a crucial role in filtering waste products and excess fluids from the blood, maintaining electrolyte balance, and producing hormones that regulate blood pressure and red blood cell production. When kidney function declines, waste products and fluids can build up in the body, leading to various complications.

CKD is typically classified into five stages based on the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), which measures how well the kidneys are filtering waste from the blood. The stages range from stage 1 (mild kidney damage with normal or increased eGFR) to stage 5 (kidney failure, also known as end-stage renal disease or ESRD).

Common causes of CKD include:

  1. Diabetes: High blood sugar levels over time can damage the kidneys.
  2. Hypertension (high blood pressure): Prolonged high blood pressure can strain the kidneys and impair their function.
  3. Glomerulonephritis: Inflammation of the kidney’s filtering units (glomeruli) can lead to kidney damage.
  4. Polycystic kidney disease: Inherited disorder characterized by the growth of cysts in the kidneys, leading to kidney enlargement and impairment.
  5. Prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract: Conditions such as kidney stones, enlarged prostate, or certain cancers can obstruct urine flow and cause kidney damage.

Symptoms of CKD may not be noticeable in the early stages but can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, feet, or face
  • Persistent itching
  • Changes in urination frequency or appearance (foamy or bubbly urine, increased or decreased urine output)
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble sleeping

Management of CKD involves controlling underlying conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, adopting a healthy lifestyle (including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption), and medications to manage symptoms and complications. In advanced stages, treatment options may include dialysis or kidney transplantation.

Regular monitoring by healthcare providers is essential for people with CKD to slow disease progression and manage complications effectively.

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