Chronic kidney disease or CKD doesn’t occur overnight. In fact, it can take many years from a mildly reduced kidney function to becoming a chronic disease. With the help of blood and urine examinations, it is possible to assess whether the kidneys are still working adequately or, for example, dialysis should be started soon. Blood and urine tests are not only necessary to detect chronic kidney disease, but regular checks are very important: they show if and how fast the disease is progressing, and help to estimate the risk for complications.
What Are The Stages Of The Disease?
Depending on the stage of the disease — and there are five — CKD treatment can be adapted individually:
Stage 1: urine tests can disclose signs of damaged kidneys. Healthy areas of the kidneys, however, ensure that they still function as normal.
Stage 2: In addition to kidney damage, kidney function is also slightly limited. Usually, however, no symptoms are noticeable.
Stage 3: Kidney function is moderately limited.
Stage 4: Kidney function is severely limited. It can already have consequences such as itching, anemia, hyperacidity or bone pain.
Stage 5: Terminal Renal Failure: The kidneys can no longer sufficiently cleanse the blood – there is often pronounced uremia. A dialysis or kidney transplant is needed to replace the kidney function.
The health consequences of chronic kidney disease also depend on the patient’s health status. Therefore, physicians will also investigate what could accelerate the progression of their kidney failure, such as heart disease, a poorly adjusted high blood pressure or diabetes.
The Consequences Of Failing Kidneys
When the kidneys fail completely, waste accumulates so much that it causes “internal poisoning”. Experts call this uremia. Among other things, it causes skin changes, gastrointestinal problems as well as brain and nerve damage. In addition, water and electrolytes become unbalanced, and the body can become acidic. Unconsciousness, pulmonary edema, and cardiac arrhythmias can be life-threatening consequences of uremia.
When it comes to treatment, therapy depends on the stage of CKD. If the kidneys are still fairly normal, treatment will halt or slow the progression of the disease. Then, medication is used, which lowers blood pressure and prevents any further cardiovascular disease. In existing diabetes, it is important to control blood sugar.
In other scenarios, such as anemia or bone metabolism disorders have already started to occur, other medications are added, such as iron-containing medications, and blood-stimulating agents. If it comes to acidity, bicarbonate is used. In addition, however, a diet adapted to the stage of kidney disease, the correct amount of drinking and physical exercise also play a role. If the kidneys fail completely, dialysis or a kidney transplant is then an option.
Kidney disease changes the daily routine. Affected persons should, for example, reflect on their lifestyle choices, especially when eating and drinking. Nephrologists usually offer nutritional advice that can help. Especially with dialysis treatment, it is usually important not to drink too much. This is because malfunctioning kidneys often barely secrete water, and water retention occurs. In addition to various treatments, a lifestyle change can slow the progression of the disease.