Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): Causes, Symptoms, Prevention

Chronic renal failure is also known as Chronic Kidney Disease. (Renal is the medical term for Kidney). It is a medical condition in which the kidneys no longer work. In this condition, the kidney failure takes months or years before the kidneys stops working. When it happens suddenly, it is known as Acute Kidney injury.

To understand this better, think of your kidney as your state Waste and sewage disposal agency (LAWMA, ESWAMA, ANSEPA). Imagine if such agency goes on strike for a while. Imagine again if the government fails to grant their request and the strike therefore continues. Imagine again if they give up their jobs with no other agency taking care of the refuse and sewage disposal.

Finally, what will happen to your environment. Yes, exactly what you are thinking right now, is what happens to your body environment in Chronic kidney disease (CKD)

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Table of Content

What is Chronic Kidney Disease/Renal Failure CRF?

Chronic Kidney Disease/Renal Failure is a condition that occurs when the function of your kidneys have been affected irreversibly over a long period of time like years. Anybody can be at risk of chronic kidney disease, starting from a small child to an elderly person, and it can also occur equally in both male and females.

The individuals affected may or may not show any symptoms depending on the stage of the disease. Usually when diagnosed early, the person can be able to prolong his/her life by slowing down progression of the disease as much as possible to end stage Chronic Kidney Disease.

Chronic kidney Disease

What is End Stage Chronic Kidney Disease

End stage Chronic Kidney Disease happens when the irreversible impairment of the kidney function is so much that that body’s waste accumulates in the body and starts to cause the person too many troubles.

When this happens, the person would have to start a procedure known as dialysis (or what some people would call “Washing of blood”). If this fails, the only solution that would be required to save the person’s life is to get a new Kidney or what we call Renal Transplant. This is important because your Body sewage and waste disposal agency has shut down.

Both Dialysis and Transplant are known as Renal Replacement therapy.

What can Cause Chronic Renal Failure?

Congenital: Some people suffering from Kidney Diseases are born with the kidney problems and they have this problem since childhood. Example of this conditions are seen in people with; Polycystic Kidney Disease and Alport syndrome.

Generally, any condition that can reduce blood supply to the kidney can cause Chronic Kidney Disease. Examples of these conditions are Renovascular disease, Hypertension, Glomerular disease, Diabetes mellitus. In some cases, the particular cause cannot be found.

Symptoms of Chronic Renal Failure

Most time when the disease is still mild or in its early stages, you may not notice any changes about your body, you may feel completely normal, and most individuals who are diagnosed in this period are mostly seen during a routine urinalysis or blood test which can help detect the presence of some substances that are not supposed to be in your blood (like urea and creatinine) in raised amounts, because, the kidneys are meant to remove them.

But as the diseases continues the person may have so many symptoms.

One early symptom could be too much urination at night (known as nocturia) or early morning facial swelling/puffiness (what some people would say is as a result of eating jollof rice at midnight)

As the disease progresses then the following can follow:

  • Tiredness
  • Breathlessness
  • Whole body swelling
  • Body itching (Pruritus)
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hiccups
  • Deep respiration
  • Muscular twitching
  • Convulsions
  • Drowsiness and coma

Complications from Chronic Kidney Disease, CKD may include coronary heart disease, bone sickness, anemia or High blood Pressure (hypertension).

Treatment for Chronic Renal Failure

Treatment depends on the cause and the what patient is presenting with at the moment. Available options include;

Lifestyle modification; This involves making changes to some aspects of your life. You should take more calorie than protein in your diet and regular exercises is also helpful. You would be counseled more on this by your doctor.

Medications/Drugs: Drugs to control your high blood pressure, as well as those to reduce protein Loss In urine, to reduce fats in the body and to treat anemia may be given.

Hydration control: Using fluid and electrolyte to maintain balance in the body is essential. Also the use of Vitamin D can be added for those with calcium deficiencies.

Treatment for end stage renal disease;

When the renal function has become too bad, Renal Replacement therapy (RRT) becomes the main stay of treatment.

In Renal Replacement therapy (RRT), it’s either a machine takes over the function of the kidneys in what is called DIALYSIS, or the person gets a new kidney in what is called Renal transplant. We would talk about this later.

Now this is the stage you don’t want you get. So how can you can prevent this?

Prevention of Chronic Kidney Disease

The importance of prevention cannot be over emphasized, we all need to take care of body organs and this write up is centered on that for the kidneys. You must come to terms with what is possible and can be avoided. You can prevent CRF/CKD by:

Drugs: The kidneys, just like the liver are mostly damaged by drugs. Remember that drugs can also be poisons, depending on the dosage. To prevent renal failure/kidney disease, avoid indiscriminate use of drugs; this Is of all most important. Only take drugs prescribed by your Doctor. Try to read about the drugs that you want to take if you have access to internet.

Herbal Medications: Try as much as possible to stop the intake of herbal medications. Some herbal drugs damage the kidneys and these ones are even worse, because they do not have dosages.

Routine Urinalysis: When you visit the hospital always get a routine urinalysis done it can help detect it early and managed appropriately. It is like a way of screening for Kidney Disease.

In summary, just like the government, you should do all you can to prevent your body’s waste management and sewage disposal agency from shutting down.

CKD is a very difficult condition and can drain the wealth and reduce the life span of an average man. Do what you can do today to save your kidneys tomorrow; be a better government.

Share this to enlighten others, and feel free to ask any questions you may have, and I would try to answer you as soon as I can.

Authors

  • Samuel Chinyere Jennifer attended the college of Medicine, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, UNTH in Enugu, Nigeria.

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