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Understanding kidney disease


The term “chronic kidney disease” means lasting damage to the kidneys that can get worse over time. If the damage is very bad, your kidneys may stop working. This is called kidney failure, or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). If your kidneys fail, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant in order to live.

What causes chronic kidney disease (CKD)?
Anyone can get CKD. Some people are more at risk than others. Some things that increase your risk for CKD include: diabetes; high blood pressure (hypertension); heart disease; having a family member with kidney disease; being African-American, Hispanic, Native American or Asian; and being over 60 years old etc.

What are the symptoms of kidney failure?
You may notice one or more of the following symptoms if your kidneys are beginning to fail: itching; muscle cramps; nausea and vomiting; not feeling hungry; swelling in your feet and ankles; too much urine (pee) or not enough urine; trouble catching your breath; and trouble sleeping.


If your kidneys stop working suddenly (acute kidney failure), you may notice one or more of the following symptoms: abdominal (belly) pain; back pain; diarrhea; fever; nosebleeds; rash; and vomiting.

Having one or more of any of the symptoms above may be a sign of serious kidney problems. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor.

How can I prevent CKD?
Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common causes of CKD. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, working with your doctor to keep your blood sugar and blood pressure under control is the best way to prevent kidney disease.

Living a healthy lifestyle can help prevent diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease, or help keep them under control. Follow these tips to lower your risk for kidney disease and the problems that cause it: follow a low-salt, low-fat diet; exercise at least 30 minutes on most days of the week; have regular check-ups with your doctor; do not smoke or use tobacco; and limit alcohol.

How is CKD treated?
Damage to your kidneys is usually permanent. Although the damage cannot be fixed, you can take steps to keep your kidneys as healthy as possible for as long as possible. You may even be able to stop the damage from getting worse.

Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes. Keep a healthy blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about medicines that can help protect your kidneys.

If you catch kidney disease early, you may be able to prevent kidney failure. If your kidneys fail, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive.

*Dr. Anthony Nwaoney is an epidemiologist and Medical Director of Richie Hospital and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of El-Shaddai Group.


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