The Truth About Chronic Kidney Disease

In the United States, millions of people have chronic kidney disease (CKD), but many don’t realize it because the symptoms typically only appear late in the progression of the disease.

CKD inhibits kidney function, ultimately leading to kidney failure and death unless treated. Because symptoms don’t appear early, you shouldn’t wait to discuss any changes or difficulties in urination with your physician.

Risk Factors and Preventive Measures

The leading causes of CKD are diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Anyone who has these conditions or a family history of them needs to be especially vigilant about testing. African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and Pacific Islander ancestry also increases risk.

Fortunately, you can take simple steps to reduce your risk. Preventing CKD triggers such as diabetes and high blood pressure is crucial. That means exercising, eating healthier and reducing sodium intake.

Testing and Treatment

There are two common tests for CKD: albuminuria-to-creatinine ratio (ACR) and glomerular filtration rate (GFR). ACR tests for unhealthy levels of the protein albumin in urine, while GFR tests the efficiency of the kidneys. Individuals with increased CKD risk factors should consider getting tested each year.

CKD causes irreversible damage, so early detection is key to preventing more harm. If CKD develops into end-stage renal disease, the only treatment options include dialysis, in which blood is pumped through specialized machines to filter and return it to the body, or a kidney transplant.

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