Did you know that according to the American Cancer Society, one in every 46 males and one in every 80 females will get kidney disease at some time in their lives? With affecting nearly 10 percent of the total population, chronic kidney disease is one of the leading causes of mortality at present.
Chronic kidney disease, in simple terms, can be termed as a condition that causes the kidneys to get damaged gradually. With this slow damage being rendered, the kidneys lose their functioning, leading to severe consequences. Kidney damage does not have any prominent signs making it a silent disease that is not diagnosed easily until the third stage in most cases. Because the kidneys play one of the most important functions directly connected to human survival, kidney patients also suffer from other health-related ailments, such as cardiovascular issues.
What exactly is chronic kidney disease?
In simple terms, chronic kidney disease refers to the kidneys being damaged to a level where it becomes difficult to carry out normal functions. This is because the kidneys filter out excess waste material and fluids in the human body. This process is essential for the healthy functioning of an individual as this waste material, if not cleared by the kidneys, can accumulate over time, causing health issues.
The disease is chronic since it progresses slowly until the kidneys lose their function entirely to filter out the bad blood, thereby leading to its accumulation in the body. With this, the kidneys are also responsible for maintaining a balance of several minerals and salts, such as potassium, phosphorus, and sodium, all of which have their roles. These are essential for different critical bodily functions and can lead to severe health consequences if these functions are hampered.
A small example of this would be potassium build-up due to decreased kidney functioning. Potassium enters the human body through the food that is consumed. Suppose the kidneys are not able to filter out excess it. In that case, it will lead to an individual experiencing symptoms like irregular heartbeat, vomiting, nausea, and shortness of breath.
Risk factors for chronic kidney disease progression
While there are several health conditions like diabetes and hypertension leading to chronic kidney disease, apart from these, certain factors cannot be controlled or prevented under any circumstances. Age, race, gender, and genetics can be held responsible for causing chronic kidney disease in individuals. With age, it is seen that older adults are the most affected by this disease. Older people have a higher mortality rate and a higher chance of end-stage renal disease.
In terms of chronic kidney disease, Americans, Alaska natives, Hispanic, African Americans, Indians, and African Americans; are all at a higher risk of contracting chronic kidney disease than other races. With all these races, one thing becomes common; the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure which is high. Diabetes and high blood pressure are two of the most common causes of chronic kidney disease, as in both scenarios, the kidney ends up taking much damage owing to reduced oxygen and blood supply.
Categorized into five stages, chronic kidney disease worsens with time, where more and more symptoms start to show in an individual. It is known that it is rather challenging to diagnose CKD based on initial symptoms as they can be similar to any infection. Therefore it is essential to carefully study the signs that might lead to chronic kidney disease in the long run. In addition, people already suffering from ailments like high sugar or blood pressure should be extra cautious in keeping their kidneys safe.
With this, having a family history of kidney disease makes an individual more susceptible to having chronic kidney disease at some point in their lives. The genes transferred from parents carry the risk of High BP or kidney disease with physical traits. This means that extra care is supposed to be taken in terms of lifestyle choices and daily habits.
Any doctor may run a few tests to get to the outcome of whether an individual is suffering from chronic kidney disease or not. The basic test is the estimated glomerular filtration rate, also known as GFR, which measures the kidney’s glomerular filtration rate to filter out waste material. A normal GFR score is when the numbers are anywhere higher than 90 in a healthy human being, and less than 15 would mean that an individual is at the kidney failure stage.
Glomeruli are tiny filters in the kidneys responsible for filtering out the waste material from an individual’s body. The GFR test is mainly to check the filtration capacity of these filters to determine what stage of kidney disease the person is at.
Another test for determining chronic kidney disease in a human being is a urine test for checking albumin. It is a protein in the blood and is treated by our kidneys so that it doesn’t pass through the urine. But unfortunately, in a kidney patient, the kidneys cannot filter out this element because it passes through the urine, which is not normal and indicates lower kidney functioning. The normal range for this test is usually 30 mg/g, considered normal in a healthy human being, and more than that can point to kidney disease.
What are the signs of chronic kidney disease?
Chronic kidney disease is a progressive condition which means that it gradually gets worse and often without any symptoms. This is because the kidneys initially deteriorate at a slow speed. In medical terms, if the damage is caused for more than three months, the individual can be put under the spectrum of chronic kidney disease. But there are a few initial signs that can point towards this disease, and individuals should be cautious with their health if these signs are visible.
- Protein or blood in the urine.
Proteins are molecules made up of amino acids and are needed for essential functions to be carried out in the body. They make up for the enzymes that further carry out chemical reactions powering up the hemoglobin so oxygen can be transported throughout the body. Proteinuria is a condition where instead of getting treated by the kidneys inside the body itself, it passes through urine, making it look frothy and foamy. With this, an individual can experience symptoms like a lack of appetite, muscle cramps, and nausea.
- Pedal Edema
Also known as swelling of the feet, this condition occurs when the kidneys cannot filter out the extra fluid in the body. As a result, the blood vessels carrying the fluid often leak, causing it to reach the surrounding tissues. This leads to swelling of the tissues, known as Edema, a medical term for swelling. Symptoms can range from weight gain to difficulty walking, wherein pulmonary edema can lead to shortness of breath and severe cough.
- Constant lethargy and tiredness
In chronic kidney patients, fatigue is normal due to the decreased oxygen supply and red blood cells. However, when the kidneys gradually fall decrease in functioning, toxins and waste material accumulate, making it difficult for an individual to retain energy.
- Skin becomes dry and itchy
With the kidneys unable to filter out the excess waste material and blood, its accumulation can make a person feel constantly itchy. This feeling may be limited to a specific area in the body and can gradually spread to other parts when the disease progresses.
- The urge to urinate a little or more than usual
For a normal human being, it is customary to urinate around 5-6 times in the span of 24 hours. But for a chronic kidney patient, this number can go up or down because the filters in the kidney do not work correctly. Due to this disease, the kidneys lose their ability to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance, due to which an individual can experience the urge to urinate frequently or very little throughout the day.
Stages in chronic kidney disease
An individual goes through 4 stages of CKD finally before reaching the end renal disease stage, which is the 5th stage. Toward the end stage, it becomes necessary for a patient to get on dialysis, which is the artificial way of filtering out blood and waste material from the body, or get a kidney transplant. Unfortunately, both of these options are difficult to pursue and time-consuming.
- The initial stage, or stage 1 as it is called, is when the GFR of an individual is 90 or higher, which refers to the as normal functioning of the kidneys. There are no symptoms of kidney damage in this stage, and it is very much possible for an individual to slow down the progression by taking appropriate measures if diagnosed with time.
- At the second stage, the GFR score of an individual can range anywhere from 60-89 ml/min, which refers to mild or moderate kidney damage sustained with time. Until this stage, an individual might not experience many symptoms. However, still, there are possibilities of proteinuria, which is the presence of protein in the urine, UTI, or high blood pressure. The case of slowing down progression is still available with appropriate measures.
- The third stage is when an individual starts seeing visible symptoms of kidney damage. Within stage 3, there are two further classifications based on the GFR score. Stage 3A indicates that the GFR score ranges between 45 to 60ml/min, and with stage 3B, it further drops between the ranges of 35- 45 ml/min. When the disease progresses to this stage, visible symptoms like muscle cramps, lower back pain, dark-colored urine, and restless leg syndrome can be seen. Often at this stage, the damage caused to the kidneys is irreversible; however, an individual can take strict measures to maintain kidney health.
- Fourth stage of chronic kidney disease is critical as the kidneys are moderate to severely damaged. The accumulation of toxic waste material rises gradually, which makes it difficult for your kidney to filter it out. The GFR score usually ranges between 15 to 35 ml/min, considered low and very serious as it is the stage before the kidneys reach the renal end stage. Symptoms like swelling of feet or face, loss of appetite as well as weight, and less urination are what the patient can experience. It becomes essential to consult a nephrologist at this stage, as medications will be required to slow down the progression and symptoms. In addition, a strict diet is to be followed to ensure that nothing contributes further to kidney damage.
- 5th stage, also known as end-stage renal disease, is where the kidneys give up entirely with little to no functioning. As a result, the GFR score of an individual falls to less than 15ml/min, which technically means that there is little to no filtration of the waste material by the kidneys, and the accumulation of waste material is so high that often the patient is required to put on dialysis.
Conclusion SRIAAS focuses on delivering treatment with the aid of Ayurveda, a traditional approach to medicines for ailments like chronic kidney disease. Here three combinations are used for the treatment, herbal medicines, a specialized diet, and specific yogic exercises that focus on treating the root cause of any condition. Numerous patients worldwide have got relief from our treatment and are now free from kidney diseases. The treatment procedure at SRIAAS directly impacts the kidneys, which helps to promote their health and functions. SRIAAS offers treatment for chronic kidney disease, high creatinine, polycystic kidney disease, nephrotic syndrome, IGA nephropathy, and acute renal disease. Dr. Puru Dhawan, an Ayurvedic Kidney Expert, states, “Keeping one’s kidney health at best should be everyone’s priority.”