The gradual loss of kidney function is called chronic kidney disease or failure. When this occurs, a patient’s kidneys are damaged and left unable to filter waste and excess fluids from the blood that are normally emitted through urine. As a result, dangerous levels of waste and fluid to build up in the body.
According to Lavanya Amuluru, MD, a nephrologist for McFarland Clinic, “approximately 17 percent of the American population over the age of 20 is affected by chronic kidney disease; the frequency and prevalence is increasing in the United States.”
People with diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease are at a higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease. The disease is more prevalent in men than women.
Some of the signs and symptoms of advanced chronic kidney disease include:
- Decreased urine output or no urine output
- Sleep problems
- Fatigue and weakness
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle twitches and cramps
- Swelling of the feet and ankles
- Persistent itching
- Decreased mental sharpness
Signs and symptoms may not appear until irreversible damage has occurred. This is because the kidneys are able to compensate for lost function.
“The early signs are proteinuria (urine contains a high amount of protein) and high blood pressure,” said Dr. Amuluru. “We can perform specific tests including a blood test called creatinine level, urine analysis and a spot urine protein and a creatinine study to try and diagnosis the disease.
"We can treat chronic kidney disease by treating high blood pressure and proteinuria, also by avoiding excessive intake of non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs," she added.
There is no cure for chronic kidney disease: “The disease is asymptomatic until it is fairly advanced. Early diagnosis can potentially facilitate interventions to delay progression,” said Dr. Amuluru. “When left untreated, kidney failure can occur, making dialysis or a kidney transplant necessary.”