KIDNEY DISEASE CAN BE A SILENT KILLER
KIDNEY DISEASE CAN BE A SILENT KILLER
A complex functioning machine, such as the human body, that works around the clock and produces a lot of waste as well. Your body must not only rid itself of unwanted substances and toxins but must retain and reuse the necessary components as well. The kidneys are nature’s filtration system. Without adequately functioning kidneys, you basically die unless you go on dialysis or get a renal transplant.
Kidneys remove unwanted waste products and excess fluid from the blood which then exit the body in the form of urine. Through this process, your blood is kept in a state of balance.
Most cases of kidney diseases and disorders (or renal disease) happen to be discovered during routine doctor visits. When an individual does not yet show symptoms, the disease has most likely just begun i.e. it is fortunately in the early stages. However, basic lab investigations may show some red flags. For instance, raised urea and creatinine levels bring concern which are then pursued further by additional, more specific tests.
If you need a second opinion for a particular lab result, an online doctor is a great option. Download Mylivedoctors, an online doctor app and book your online doctor appointment right away. Upload your lab results and get that second opinion from the comfort of your own home. It beats the hassle of the waiting room and long commutes for medical advice.
More advanced cases of renal disease may present with evidence of abnormal kidney function such as high blood pressure, swelling of ankles or generalized swelling of the body, or blood in your urine. Even something as common as nausea can be an underlying indicator of kidney disease. Once a general physician picks up signs and symptoms specific to kidney disease, the patient is best referred to a kidney doctor or nephrologist for further treatment. Finding out the underlying cause, duration and severity of disease is crucial for further management.
In order to better understand the changes the body goes through on encountering common kidney problems, here is a list of the signs and symptoms that most often occur with kidney disease:
- increase in the urge to urinate
- decreased urination
- swelling around ankles and in feet
- itchy and/or dry skin
- foamy urine (with bubbles)
- blood in urine
- back pain
- troubled sleep
- puffy eyes
- reduced appetite
- muscle spasms/cramps
Pain, swelling and changes in urination may be indicative of enlarged kidneys. Although relatively uncommon, these symptoms should not be taken lightly. Enlarged kidneys may be caused by stones, tumors, radiation, polycystic kidney disease, or abscess formation around the kidney.
Types of kidney disease
There are broadly two types of kidney disease based on disease duration. This is the simplest categorization of kidney disease which will help you gain a better understanding of the disease process.
- Acute kidney disease/failure:
This is a sudden downward spiral of kidney function over a matter of hours to days. Five percent of all hospital admissions and 30% of ICU admissions are also found to be in acute renal failure. Renal injury results in an immediate rise of kidney enzymes such as urea and creatinine in the blood. If you have been experiencing unexplained and sudden outbursts of nausea, vomiting, malaise or feel disoriented, it might not be the occasional upset stomach.
It’s always better to get it checked out. Go to the Emergency Department with anything urgent. For non-urgent symptoms you can always contact an online doctor at www.mylivedoctors.com and look up a kidney doctor. Book a tele appointment with doctor and receive an online medical consultation. It is a quick and convenient way to get treated for basic medical problems without having to go to the doctors office.
- Chronic kidney disease:
Up to 20 million Americans are affected with chronic kidney disease. That is about 1 in 9 adults! There is progressive loss of kidney function over a period of month to years. Greater than 70% of the cases are attributed to Diabetes Mellitus and Hypertension (high blood pressure). Whatever the cause of impaired kidney function, most symptoms arise from secondary complications. For instance, difficulty in concentrating, subtle memory changes, restless legs, weakness and altered sensation in the limbs can develop as the disease progresses.
The treatment of kidney disease, whether it is acute or chronic, mostly relies on symptomatic management and treatment of the underlying condition. The aim is to slow the progression of disease and assist the body towards recovery. After diagnosing the underlying cause, a long list of different medications are likely to follow suit. Steroids, diuretics, phosphate binders and calcium based agents are just a few of the conventional drugs that are used based on the particular diagnosis.
Dialysis or renal transplant are opted for in life-threatening situations or when the kidney disease spirals down to the point of no return.
Since chronic kidney disease is largely irreversible, however certain lifestyle changes, particularly pertaining to diet have to be made. It is best to get evaluated by a nutritionist. Find an online nutritionist through www.mylivedoctors.com.
Here are some foods to avoid with kidney disease:
- Protein based foods such as eggs, meat, poultry and fish should be removed from the diet. Research suggests that protein restriction slows the progression to end stage renal disease. The amount of protein intake and restriction should be carefully calculated prior to beginning treatment.
- Salt and water. In the advanced stages of kidney failure, the kidney is unable to manage fluctuations of sodium. Increased sodium levels will lead to swelling, high blood pressure and may even lead to congestive heart failure.
- Potassium rich foods. Dates, bananas, green leafy vegetables should be avoided. Ask for a detailed list of potassium content of foods and limit their intake.
- Phosphate rich foods such as dairy products, eggs and meat should be taken cautiously.
Other lifestyle changes can be made to your routine may also go a long way in the recovery process. Here is how to cure kidney disease at home or at least how to prevent kidney disease:
- Try to keep your blood pressure below 130/80mmHg
- If you are diabetic, keep your blood sugar within the required range
- Incorporate exercise into your daily routine
- If you smoke, quit immediately
- Don’t use supplements or herbal medicine without consulting an expert first
Kidney disease can go unnoticed for months and even years. Educate yourself and learn to listen to your body. Get your annual physicals. Don’t take your health for granted!