The symptoms of kidney disease may not show themselves until after prolonged damage to the kidneys. According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue and weakness
- Sleep problems
- Changes in how much you urinate
- Decreased mental sharpness
- Muscle twitches and cramps
- Swelling of feet and ankles
- Persistent itching
- Chest pain, if fluid builds up around the lining of the heart
- Shortness of breath, if fluid builds up in the lungs
- High blood pressure (hypertension) that's difficult to control"
These symptoms are "nonspecific", meaning that they may be symptoms of other illnesses as well. The best determination is to go see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Causes & Risk Factors
There are other illnesses and conditions that can lead to kidney disease. Some of these include types 1 and 2 diabetes, interstitial nephritis (inflamation of kidney's tubules and structures), recurring kidney infections, high blood pressure, low blood flow to the kidneys, urine backed up in the kidneys, sepsis, even direct damage to the kidneys due to external forces. Such direct damage might be due to a traumatic injury with heavy blood loss, such as a car accident. Other risk factors include smoking, obesity, medical history of kidney disease in the family, old age.
Kidney disease is diagnosed through blood tests, urine tests, imaging tests and/or doing a biopsy on the kidney to take a tissue sample to analyze. Once diagnosed, treatment is a combination of managing symptoms and slowing the progression of the disease. Dialysis is one of the main ways to treat kidney disease. It involves the filtering and removal of waste from the blood stream through artificial means. As we talked about in our newsletter, here are the two types of dialysis: "There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Hemodialysis cleans the blood by running it through an artificial kidney (hemodialyzer) outside the body. The blood is fed through the hemodialyzer through an access into the blood vessels, usually in the arm or leg. Peritoneal dialysis cleans the blood within the body. A catheter is placed in the peritoneal cavity in the abdomen using surgery, then during treatment, the cavity is filled with dialysate and it cleans the blood."
There are both factors we can control, and factors we can't when it comes to kidney disease. The following factors are ones we can control and how we can help ourselves: a) Don't smoke b) Maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle through proper diet and exercise c) Follow directions on all pain meds that are over-the-counter d) Work with your doctor to catch kidney disease early and perhaps reverse or more successfully treat.
This information is a small scratch on the iceberg that is kidney disease. For more information follow the links on our sources below. Stay healthy!
- "Chronic Kidney Disease", Mayo Clinic
- "What is Kidney Disease?", Web MD