CKD Overview

Your kidneys play an important part in keeping your body healthy. They are about as big as a fist and weigh about five or six ounces. They have four important jobs:

  1. They remove waste products from your body through urine.
  2. They control the amount of water that stays in your body.
  3. They maintain the chemical balance of the body.
  4. They make hormones. These hormones help to control blood pressure, make blood cells, and maintain bones.

Your kidneys may stop working as a result of an injury or damage from some medicines, poisons, or infections. this is know as acute renal failure. Your doctor or a kidney specialist (nephrologist) will treat the problem that is causing your kidneys to fail. Depending on the cause and response to treament, a proportion of patients will regain full or sufficient renal function. Some patients will never regain full renal function and progress to chronic kidney.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a progressive loss of kidney function over a period of months or years through five stages.

If both kidneys cannot function, waste products and water will build up in the body. This is called uremia. You may have had some of the symptoms of uremia: weakness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, itching of the skin, muscle cramps, blurred vision, joint aches and pains, and sleep problems. When both kidneys have stopped working, the patient may be treated with dialysis or kidney transplantation.

The estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) is the best indicator of how well the kidneys are working. An eGFR of 90 or above is considered normal. A person whose eGFR stays below 60 for 3 months or longer has CKD. As kidney function declines, the risk of complications rises.

  • Moderate decrease in eGFR (30 to 59). At this stage of CKD, hormones and minerals can be thrown out of balance, leading to anemia and weak bones.
  • Severe reduction in eGFR (15 to 29). The patient should continue following the treatment for complications of CKD and learn as much as possible about the treatments for kidney failure.
  • Kidney failure (eGFR less than 15). When the kidneys do not work well enough to maintain life, dialysis or a kidney transplant will be needed.

In addition to tracking eGFR, blood tests can show when substances in the blood are out of balance. If phosphorus or potassium levels start to climb, a blood test will prompt the health care provider to address these issues before they permanently affect the person’s health.

  1. Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)
  2. Creatinine
  3. Creatinine Clearance
  4. Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR)

Knowing your numbers and understanding your blood work is essential to both assessing the risk of kidney failure and monitoring the effectiveness of treatment should kidney failure occur.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last updated on: August 21, 2014