Chronic kidney disease is a condition in which the proper functioning of the kidneys declines over a long period. As this happens, the kidneys become less able to effectively remove waste products and excess fluids. Patients with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension have an elevated risk of developing chronic kidney disease, and the condition can eventually progress to kidney failure. The early stages of chronic kidney disease may not produce any symptoms, but advanced symptoms include fatigue, skin itching, weight loss, nausea, and swelling in the legs and feet. Doctors perform blood and urine tests to diagnose chronic kidney disease, and individuals at high risk for this condition are usually screened during routine checkups. Ultrasounds, imaging studies, and a kidney biopsy may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment methods include medications to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, and patients will also need to make dietary changes such as reducing salt and protein intake. In the end stages of the disease, patients typically need dialysis or a kidney transplant.
The stages of chronic kidney disease are outlined below.
Patients with stage one kidney disease have only mild kidney damage, and they typically have no symptoms. Doctors categorize patients in the stage one category if they have an estimated glomerular filtration rate of more than ninety in addition to some evidence of physical damage to the kidneys. For example, patients could have protein in the urine, and though this would not usually be noticeable to the patient, it would typically be detected through laboratory tests. Patients diagnosed at stage one are encouraged to talk to their physician about steps that could keep their disease from getting worse. For example, doctors recommend patients at this stage try to maintain a healthy weight, and diabetes patients will need to ensure their blood sugar is tightly controlled. Patients are often referred to a nephrologist (a kidney specialist) at this stage.