What is chronic kidney disease?

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) refers to a variety of disorders that affect the kidney, resulting in its loss of function (Levey and Coresh, 2012). Kidneys are responsible for filtering the electrolytes, waste products, and fluids from the body, which are excreted in the form of urine. If you suffer from CKD, your kidneys lose their ability to filter the waste, leading to the build-up of electrolytes and fluids in your body.

Chronic kidney disease, also known as chronic kidney failure, explains the gradual loss of kidney function. Your kidneys filter excess fluids and wastes from your blood that are then excreted in your urine. Dangerous levels of electrolytes, fluids, and wastes can build up in the human body in advanced stages.

At the early stages of chronic kidney disease, you might have few signs or symptoms. Chronic kidney disease may not become evident until your kidney function is significantly diminished. Treatment for chronic kidney disease centers around slowing the progression of kidney damage, primarily by controlling the underlying cause.

See: Easy Yoga Poses to Manage Chronic Kidney Disease CKD

Signs & Symptoms of CKD

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease grow over time if kidney damage develops slowly. Signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease include:

- Nausea

- Vomiting

- Loss of appetite

- Fatigue

- Sleep issues

- Swelling of feet and ankles

- Changes in how much you urinate

- Persistent itching

- Decreased mental sharpness

- Chest pain

- Muscle twitches and cramps

- Shortness of breath

- High blood pressure (hypertension) 

Signs and symptoms of kidney disease can be nonspecific, or that they may also be caused by other disorders. 


When to see a doctor

You should see your doctor if you feel any signs or symptoms of kidney disease.

See: Chronic Kidney Disease Diet Plan for Stage 1 Patients

Causes & risk factors of CKD

Causes of CKD

Chronic kidney disease occurs when an illness impairs kidney function, causing kidney damage to worsen over a few months or even years. A partial list of some medical conditions that can cause chronic kidney disease include:

- Type 1 or type 2 diabetes

- High blood pressure

- Polycystic kidney disease

- Extended obstruction of the urinary tract

- Recurrent kidney disease

- Other conditions

Risk factors of CKD

Factors that can boost your risk of chronic kidney disease include:

Diabetes

High blood pressure

Heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease

Smoking

Obesity

Being African, Native American or Asian-American

Family history of kidney disease

Abnormal kidney structure

Older age


Complications of CKD

Chronic kidney disease can affect nearly every part of the body. Possible complications may include:

- Fluid retention

- Heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease

- Sudden potassium levels rise in your blood

- Weak bones

- Anemia

- Lower libido

- Harm to your central nervous system, which can cause difficulty concentrating, personality changes or seizures

- Reduced immune response

- Pregnancy complications 

- Irreversible damage to your kidneys.

See: 80 Year Old Male with Chronic Kidney Disease Is Healed with Ayurvedic Treatment

Prevention of CKD

Prevention Remedies

To lower your risk of developing kidney disease:

- Maintain a healthy weight. If you are at a healthy weight, work to keep it by being physically active most days of the week. If you need to drop weight, talk to your doctor about strategies for healthy weight reduction. Frequently this entails increasing daily physical activity and reducing calories.

- Do not smoke. Cigarette smoking can damage your kidneys and create present kidney damage worse.  Support groups, counseling, and medications can help you to prevent it.

- Handle your medical conditions with your doctor's help. When you have diseases or conditions that increase your risk of kidney disease, work with your physician to control them. Consult your doctor about tests to search for signs of kidney damage.


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CKD treatments

Chronic kidney disease treatment

Based on the underlying cause, some kinds of kidney disease can be treated. Frequently, however, chronic kidney disease has no cure. Treatment usually consists of steps to help control signs and symptoms, reduce complications, and slow the development of the disease. If your kidneys become badly damaged, you might require treatment for end-stage kidney disease.

- Fixing the cause: Your doctor will work to control or slow the cause of your kidney disease. Treatment options vary, depending on the reason. But kidney damage may continue to worsen when an underlying illness has been controlled.

- Treating complications: CKD complications can be controlled by doctors to make you comfortable. Treatments may include medications and diet changes.

- A lower protein diet is beneficial to minimize waste products in your own blood. As your body procedures protein from foods, it generates waste products your kidneys must filter out of your blood. To lower the amount of work your kidneys have to do, your physician may recommend eating less protein. 

- Possible future treatments: Regenerative medicine holds the capacity to fully heal damaged tissues and organs, offering hope and solutions for folks that have conditions that now are beyond repair.

See: Basti Treatment in Ayurveda Offers Relief to a Diabetic and Kidney Patient

Lidfestyle & natural remedies

Lifestyle & home remedies

As part of your treatment for CKD, your physician may recommend a special diet to help encourage your kidneys and restrict the work they need to do. Preservation and prevention of kidney function are paramount. The first stages of CKD can be controlled to limit progression, but sadly, when the disease progresses beyond a certain stage, end-stage renal disease (ESDR) requiring dialysis is practically inevitable. A registered dietitian can analyze your current diet program and suggest ways to get your diet easier on your kidneys.

Based on your situation, kidney function, and overall health, your dietitian may recommend that you:

Restrict the quantity of protein you consume. Your dietitian will estimate the suitable number of grams of protein you need daily and suggest changes based on that amount. High-protein foods include milk, cheese, lean meats, eggs,  and legumes. Low-protein foods include vegetables, fruits, cereals, and bread.

- Avoid products with additional salt. Reduce the amount of sodium you consume every day by avoiding products with additional salts, such as many convenience foods, such as frozen dinners, canned soups, and quick foods. Other foods with added salt include salty snack foods, canned vegetables, and processed meats and cheeses.

- Pick lower potassium foods. Your dietitian may suggest that you select lower potassium foods at every meal. High-potassium foods include potatoes, spinach, bananas, oranges,  and tomatoes. Examples of low-potassium foods include carrots, apples, cabbage, green beans, grapes, and berries. Be aware that lots of salt substitutes contain potassium, so you generally should avoid them if you have kidney failure.

- Functional Medicine: For those already living with CKD, holistic therapies aimed at encouraging the kidneys may limit risk, slow development, and improve quality of life. New findings in nephrology research indicate that the intestinal microbiota and gut barrier function play crucial roles in the development of CKD. Like many organ systems, the renal system is influenced by what happens in the gut. Microbiome imbalances or the existence of certain organisms in the GI tract may have direct and indirect detrimental effects on the kidneys.

- Traditional Chinese Medicine - Acupuncture: The kidneys perform several essential physiological roles; Along with the blood filtering and electrolyte balancing functions, they are involved in the regulation of hormones that affect bone health, hematopoiesis, and blood pressure.

People who practice Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have a sophisticated grasp of the numerous facets of kidney function, some of which are just now being corroborated by contemporary research.

In TCM theory, the kidneys hold the "character" ("jing") of vitality, both inherited and present, using both yin and yang aspects to affect physical reproduction, development, fluid balance, bone, and blood production. They also influence subtler cognitive and psychological aspects influencing memory and will power.

The early Chinese understood that kidney functions are fundamental to general health; if the kidneys do not work well, neither does anything else. Kidney damage is the consequence of an inflammatory response that's triggered when the kidneys try to repair themselves out of some type of harm. If there is continuous or repeated harm, the inflammation becomes chronic.

- The Gut-Kidney Connection: An abnormal intestinal microbiome may play a role in the accumulation of gut-derived uremic toxins and elevated circulating levels of bacteria-derived lipopolysaccharides (LPS).  Additionally, it results in immune dysregulation. All these are factors in the pathogenesis of CKD.

An altered microbiome also contributes to the development of a chronic systemic inflammatory condition that's associated with an array of comorbidities, including diabetes, obesity, insulin resistance, and CVD. This can create a chain reaction of all interrelated conditions impacting the kidneys.

See: Stages & Natural Treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease

Summary

For those who are living with chronic kidney disease, holistic therapy, and interventions aimed at supporting the kidneys can limit the risk, slow progression, and improve the quality of life and lifespan. Integrative medicine practitioners can provide vital tests, screening, early identification, and natural preventive interventions for our elders.

See: Effectiveness of Guduchi Ayurvedic Medicine for a Case Of Lupus and Chronic Kidney Disease

References

1. Beddhu, S., Baird, B. C., Zitterkoph, J., Neilson, J., & Greene, T. 2009. Physical Activity and Mortality in Chronic Kidney Disease (NHANES III).Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology CJASN, 4(12), 1901–1906. Carney EF. 2014. Walking reduces inflammation in predialysis CKD. Nature Reviews Nephrology. 10: 300

2. Levey AS, Coresh J. 2012. Chronic kidney disease. Lancet 379: 165–80

3. Levin A, Hemmelgarn B, Culleton B, Tobe S, et al., 2008 Guidelines for the management of chronic kidney disease. CMAJ 179 (11): 1154–62.

4. Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-kidney-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20354521

5. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. 

6. National Kidney Disease Education Program.

7. UpToDate: “Chronic Kidney Disease.”

8. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: “The Benefits of Transplant versus Dialysis.”

9. American Gastroenterological Association: “How to Talk with Patients about PPIs and Chronic Kidney Disease.”


See: Parsley and its impact on Chronic Kidney Disease

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