Kidney Disease: What’s The Long Term Outlook?

Kidney Disease Types:

To know how to treat kidney disease, it is necessary to have an idea about the different types of diseases. The most common type is chronic kidney disease that worsens with time, caused usually by diabetes or high blood pressure. The latter can be very dangerous for kidney function as it raises pressure on blood vessels in the organ called the glomeruli. These vessels are responsible for cleansing the blood, and with increased damage, their functions get affected. Diabetes may lead to abnormal blood glucose levels that interfere with the blood cleaning process in kidneys and the body soon becomes burdened with toxins.

  • Glomerulonephritis happens when the glomeruli or blood vessels within kidneys get swollen. These are expected to filter blood in the organ, but end up getting inflamed because of medications, infections or due to congenital defects.
  • Kidney stones develop when substances in your blood crystallize inside the kidneys and create solid stones that are ejected in the urine.
  • UTIs are bacterial infections that may be treated with antibiotics and most often affect the urethra or bladder.
  • Polycystic kidney diseases are rather uncommon; these are genetic and develop as cysts inside the kidneys that hamper their normal functioning, causing kidney failure in the long run.

Symptoms Of Kidney Ailments:

Symptoms of kidney disease are noticeable as the disease progresses and not so much during the early stages. The most common signs of kidney diseases are vomiting and nausea, appetite loss, tiredness, sleep problems, weakness, and muscle cramping, reduced mental sharpness, swollen feet, and ankles, persistent itchy skin and chest pains, etc. These symptoms are not specific to kidney problems alone; they may be triggered by other ailments. This is why diagnosis may happen when it is already too late.

Risk Factors and Complications of Kidney Diseases:

There are some factors that heighten the risks of kidney disease, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Cardiovascular problems may also affect the kidney functions. Being obese or indulging in smoking heightens the risks. Kidney problems often occur in people who belong to the African-American or Asian-American communities, or who have had a family history of this disease. Finally, old age can cause kidney problems and an irregular kidney structure can trigger chances of developing a kidney problem.

When symptoms aggravate, there may be complications leading to kidney failure. Fluid retention will cause arms and legs to become swollen while fluid build-up in the lungs causes pulmonary edema. Cardiovascular problems, weak bones that are liable to break, and a surge in the potassium level can affect normal functioning of the heart. Some other complications are anemia, damages to the nervous system, lack of focus, seizures, personality changes, a decreased immune response, reduced sex drive, pregnancy complications, and pericarditis. When you suffer from end-stage kidney disease, you may require dialysis or a transplant in order to survive. 

Diagnosis and Treatment:

  • When you go to see a doctor for the symptoms, s/he needs to first check whether you belong to any of these high-risk categories.
  • S/he conducts tests to determine your kidney function such as the GFR or Glomerular Filtration Rate test to see how your kidneys are currently working, and what stage the disease is in. 
  • An ultrasound or CT Scan will show clear pictures of your urinary tract and kidneys helping the doctor understand if the organ size is optimal, and whether there are any tumors or structural defects. 
  • A biopsy takes a small tissue from the organ when you are under sedation and this allows the doctor to understand the type of disease and the extent of the damage. A urine test tests for albumin, a protein that will pass in the urine when the kidney is damaged. A blood creatinine test will see if the creatinine levels are high. This is likely to happen in the case of kidney malfunctions. 

Treatments Options:

  • To treat kidney disease, you first need to understand what has caused it. For instance, if it is chronic, it is usually caused by diabetes or high blood pressure. In such cases, your doctor will oversee the whole process of managing the condition by regulating your blood sugar, blood pressure, or cholesterol levels. They may use drugs like ACE or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and ARBs or angiotensin receptor blockers for slowing down the disease’s progress.
  • Cholesterol medicines will help to keep blood cholesterol levels down and preserve kidney health. Medicines may also be prescribed for treating anemia conditions and prevent swelling of limbs.
  • Positive lifestyle changes and dietary changes are recommended for patients with kidney diseases. These can be as vital as medications. When you adopt positive lifestyle habits, you can tackle the underlying causes right at the beginning. The doctor may advise you to take regular insulin injections to control your blood glucose levels. You may have to reduce your salt intake in meals and avoid foods that may cause high-cholesterol. A heart-healthy diet containing more veggies and fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products may help. You must give up smoking and reduce alcohol intake. It is important to maintain optimal body weight and engage in regular physical activities to stay healthy and free from kidney problems.