doctor holding up model kidney with cross section revealing internal anatomy
Sean Cate
Sean Cate
May 29, 2024 ·  3 min read

Risk Factors & Early Warning Signs of Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a serious condition characterized by the gradual loss of kidney function over time. Recognizing the risks and early warning signs is imperative for early intervention and treatment. Let’s take a look at some of the key aspects of the disease:

Understanding Chronic Kidney Disease

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Chronic Kidney Disease is a condition where the kidneys are damaged and are unable to filter blood efficiently. The kidneys are meant to remove waste and excess water, regulate blood pressure, produce red blood cells, and maintain bone health. With that in mind, having kidneys that don’t operate at the right capacity is a serious, multi-faceted issue. CKD is typically a slow-progressing disease, often taking months or years to developing, and is divided into five different stages to guide treatment options.

Read More: 10 Warning Signs Your Kidneys Could Be Failing

Major Risks

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There are several factors that increase the risk of developing Chronic Kidney Disease. Diabetes plays a role for sure, with about 1 in 3 adults with diabetes also having CKD. High blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, making them unable to function properly. High blood pressure affects about 1 in every 5 adults with CKD, as it can also damage blood vessels in the kidneys. “High blood pressure can make blood vessels narrower, reducing blood flow. Over time, blood vessels throughout the body weaken, including in the kidneys,” warns the CDC.1

Heart disease is another factor to consider. Adults with heart failure have a higher risk of Chronic Kidney Disease due to an overall reduced blood flow to the kidneys. Additionally, obesity raises the risk for diabetes and high blood pressure, and any family history of CKD, smoking, and being over the age of 60 are all good reasons to get tested.

Early Warning Signs and Symptoms

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Early stages of Chronic Kidney Disease often present no symptoms, making it difficult to find and diagnose without specific tests. These tests measure creatinine levels in the blood and the presence of protein in the urine, both indicators of kidney health. However, as the disease progresses, symptoms do start to become noticeable. The National Kidney Foundation states that “people living with CKD do not have any symptoms until the more advanced stages and/or complications develop. If symptoms do happen, they may include foamy urine, urinating more often or less often than usual”.2 

Other symptoms include persistent fatigue, itchy and dry skin, nausea, loss of appetite, and unintentional weight loss. Advanced stages of CKD might cause more severe symptoms like difficulty concentrating, numbness or swelling in the extremities, muscle cramps, shortness of breath, vomiting, and trouble sleeping.3 

Read More: Avoid These 5 Foods if You Have Kidney Disease and Diabetes

Preventive Measures and Treatment

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Managing Chronic Kidney Disease involves controlling conditions and making lifestyle modifications. Aim for a blood pressure reading below 140/90 mm Hg and keeping your blood sugar levels within target ranges. Regular physical activity, having a balanced diet, and managing your weight all play important roles in preventing CKD progression.

In cases where progress happens despite these measures, medical interventions might include medication, dialysis, or even a kidney transplant if the disease has progressed too far.

Conclusion

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Chronic Kidney Disease is a serious condition with major health risks if left  untreated. Knowing the risks, early symptoms, and preventive startegies should help you manage CKD effectively. Be proactive to help slow anyn progress and you’ll be able to improve the quality of life you and those around you those.

Read More: 10 Habits That Can Seriously Damage Your Kidneys

Sources

  1. Risk Factors for Chronic Kidney Disease.” CDC
  2. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).” National Kidney Foundation
  3. Chronic Kidney Disease Basics.” CDC