An estimated 30 million people in the United States are living with chronic kidney disease, also known by its acronym CKD.
The term “chronic kidney disease” means that there is damage to the kidneys, which has lasted a long time and is getting worse over time. If the damage is very severe, the kidneys can stop working. This is called renal failure or end-stage renal failure. If your kidneys fail, you will have to undergo dialysis treatment or a kidney transplant to survive.
Who Can Get Kidney Disease?
Anyone can result in kidney disease. Some are more at risk than others. Some conditions that can put you at higher risk for kidney disease include:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Heart disease (heart)
- Having a family member with kidney disease
- Be African American, Hispanic, Asian or Native American
- Be over 60 years of age
How Can I Prevent Kidney Disease?
Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common causes of kidney disease. 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 life can prevent diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease, or it can help keep them under control.
How Can I Know If I Have Kidney Disease?
Kidney disease has no symptoms until your kidneys are badly damaged. The only way to know how well your kidneys are working is by examining yourself. Examining yourself for kidney disease is very simple. Ask your doctor for the following tests for your kidney health:
The level of eGFR is an indicator of how well your kidneys are cleaning your blood.
Your body creates waste all the time. These wastes reach your blood. Healthy kidneys remove waste from your blood. This type of waste is called creatinine. If you have a lot of creatinine in your blood, this may be a sign that your kidneys are having problems filtering your blood.
This test is done to see if there is blood or protein in your urine.
Your kidneys make urine. If you result in blood or protein in your urine, it can be an indicator that your kidneys are not working well.
Your doctor can ask for an example of urine in your clinic or you can ask that you collect your urine at home and bring it to your appointment.
This test is done to see how hard your heart is working to pump your blood.
High blood pressure can cause kidney disease, but kidney disease can also cause your blood pressure to rise. Sometimes having high blood pressure can be a sign that your kidneys are not working well.
For most people, a normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. Ask your doctor what your pressure should be.
How Is Kidney Disease 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 or prevent it from getting worse.
- Control your blood sugar level if you have diabetes.
- Maintain a healthy blood pressure level.
- Follow a diet low in salt and fat.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes almost every day of the week.
- Keep a healthy weight.
- Do not smoke or use tobacco.
- Limit alcohol use.
Talk to your doctor about medicines that can help protect your kidneys.
If kidney disease is detected early, you can prevent kidney failure. If your kidneys fail, you will have to undergo dialysis treatment or a kidney transplant to survive.