January 01, 2021

Chronic kidney disease

Early detection, lifestyle changes are key

Knowing key risk factors to developing kidney disease can help you and your doctor prevent it or stay alert to possible kidney damage, should it occur. When caught early, treatments can preserve enough kidney function for a normal life.

Chronic kidney disease

You have a friend who has been on dialysis. Someone at your church had a kidney transplant. So, when your doctor mentions that you are at risk of chronic kidney disease, it certainly gets your attention.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) refers to reduced kidney function that stretches over three months or longer. CKD spans many different stages. In the early to middle stages of the disease, an evaluation by a kidney doctor may reveal an underlying problem that may be correctable, restoring kidney function. Sometimes, lost kidney function can't be restored, and steps can be taken to protect remaining kidney function, maintaining a relatively normal life and life span.

Only the final stage — end-stage kidney disease — forces treatment options such as dialysis or transplant.

Your kidneys are among the most industrious organs in your body with plenty of work capacity, and they can still function adequately during earlier stages of increasing damage. Consequently, CKD often goes unnoticed initially, and it leaves you with significant kidney damage when you're finally diagnosed. By taking appropriate steps early, you can protect your kidneys from further damage and prevent worsening of the disease to the point of kidney failure.

Effective filters

Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs just under your rib cage, one on each side of your spine. One of their biggest jobs is to remove excess fluid and waste material from your body by filtering between 30 and 50 gallons of blood each day.

Within the kidney, blood passes through tiny filtering...