Autoimmune Disease Management 101: Fighting Back

Chronic Kidney Disease And You

Kidney disease is more common than you might think. Over 30 million Americans, nearly 10 percent of the population, have chronic kidney disease. It is the ninth leading cause of death. Unfortunately, many more people likely have kidney disease but aren't aware of it. Here is what you need to know.

Who Is At Risk Of Kidney Disease?

People who have diabetes are more likely to get kidney disease. Heart disease and high blood pressure are risk factors as well. Additionally, kidney disease can be genetic so if one of your parents or grandparents has kidney disease, there's a greater chance you will, too.

What Tests Are Done To Diagnose Kidney Health?

Two different tests are commonly done to check on the status of your kidneys. One is a urine test that checks for the presence of protein in the urine. Because early kidney disease doesn't have many symptoms, this test is best for checking. Healthy kidneys filter protein out, and the presence of protein in the urine can mean they aren't do their job as well as they should.

The other test is a blood test called a glomerular filtration rate (GFR). This test shows how much blood the kidneys are filtering each minute. A score of 60 or below can be indicative of kidney disease, and you will undergo additional testing.

How Is Kidney Disease Treated?

Chronic kidney disease cannot be cured as it is a progressive disease. When it is caught early, it can be successfully treated. This is extremely important as kidney disease can trigger or worsen heart disease. It can also increase blood pressure and cause a stroke.

Specific kinds of medication for keeping your blood pressure in check will be prescribed. These medications, usually ACEi (angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors) and ARBs (angiotensin receptor blockers) also help to protect the kidneys from further damage.

If one or both of your kidneys progress to the point where they are no longer doing their job, you have kidney failure. This will require either a kidney transplant or dialysis. The average waiting time for a donor kidney is 3 to 5 years, depending on blood type, therefore most people with chronic kidney disease will have to go through dialysis. Dialysis is where your blood is filtered through a machine. This needs to be done three days a week at a dialysis center, and each session takes about four hours.

Speak to your doctor to learn more about chronic kidney disease treatment options.