Kidney Disease

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Kidney Disease

Kidney Disease

        In the human body, kidneys play a major role in removing waste products and regulating the fluid levels in the blood. These waste products are then excreted from the body as urine. Kidney Disease or Chronic Kidney Failure/Disease (CKD) is best described as gradual loss of the kidney function over time. As kidney failure advances and the organ’s function is seriously impaired, dangerous levels of waste and fluid can rapidly build up in the body. This very serious disease includes many factors that come into play and are all very important to understand and help decrease the progression of this disease. These factors include the disease history, etiology, signs and symptoms, laboratory testing, treatment, prognosis, complications, statistics, and prevention.

        During the early 1950’s there was very little to no treatment for kidney disease. It was known as a death sentence. It was then that the National Nephrosis Foundation (NNF) was born, but it was primarily used to support families and patients by raising funds for comfort and death expenses. It wasn’t until 1960 that CKD was no longer considered a fatal illness but a chronic disease. This was due to the discovery of the Teflon shunt which solved the problem that had prevented doctors from performing long term treatments. Usually a patient undergoing dialysis suffered from damaged veins and arteries, so that after several treatments, it became difficult to find a vessel to access the patient’s blood. They were now able to research the disease further and educate the patient. Then in 1972, a law passed that provided the federal government financing for nearly all Americans with kidney disease. Today, the National Kidney Foundation participates in research that is helping advance knowledge about chronic kidney disease, treatment and patient outcomes. Test results form NKF’s Kidney Early Evaluation Program are studied, and analyzed to help doctors find ways to improve outcomes and better treat kidney disease in specific, at risk populations.

        The cause of CKD is not always known but can result from many primary diseases of the kidneys themselves including kidney infection, narrowing or blocked renal artery, long term use of a medication that damages the kidneys and many more. Risk factors also play a key role in CKD. They are smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, being African-American, Native American or Asian-American, family history of kidney disease or age 65 or older. The most common cause, however, is diabetes and high blood pressure. Diabetes is a condition in which the body produces to little-to-no insulin or has become unable to make effective use of insulin. Insulin is needed to regulate the levels of sugar in the blood. When diabetes is poorly controlled, too much sugar can build up in the blood. It then damages the tiny filters in the kidneys, which affects the ability to filter out waste products and fluids. The first signs of diabetic kidney disease is appearance of low levels of protein in the urine. High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the kidney, reducing their ability to work properly. It causes the force of the blood flow to be high, so the blood vessels stretch which make the flow easier. Unfortunately, this stretching causes stretching scars and weakens blood vessels in the body, including the kidneys. This damage disables the kidneys from removing the waste and fluid from the body causing a horrible effect of raising the blood pressure ever higher.

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Signs and symptoms can be a little harder to detect in early stages because the loss of function is slow and stretches over a long period of time. Most people with CKD have no symptoms because the body can handle even a big percentage of lost kidney function. Most people start to develop symptoms when CKD becomes severe, stage 4 or worse. The symptoms at early stages may be non specific, such as being tired more, malaise, anorexia, pruritus, and nauseated. Then as the disease worsens symptoms become more like confusion, cramping or twitching muscles, edema and numbness around feet ...

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