Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is the progressive loss of kidney function over months to years. In simple terms, chronic kidney disease basically means renal failure.
The kidneys are a pair of organs. These are the filtering organs on our body which keeps us healthy. This organ is found in the abdomen and is roughly the size of one’s fist. Each kidney consists of millions of tiny functional units known as nephrons. The job of each nephron is to filter blood.
The main job of the kidney is to remove toxins and excess water from the blood. This process is known as filtration. Another major role played by the kidneys is the control of blood pressure and synthesis of a hormone called Erythropoietin. They also have several other functions which include, to get rid of excess calcium and phosphate, control level of minerals such as potassium and sodium in the blood, and regulation of acidity in the blood.
Chronic Kidney Disease is results when these tiny filters or the nephrons are damaged and starts to shut down over time. In the initial phase of damage, when only a few nephrons are damages, the other remaining healthy nephrons begin to do extra work and compensate for the lost nephrons. However, when this compensation can no longer occur, the effects of chronic kidney disease are seen.
The common symptoms of CKD are:
- Body swelling
- Loss of appetite
- Disturbances in sleep
- Body aches and pains
Chronic Kidney disease is most often detected by several tests in the advances stage. Certain tests can remain to be within the normal range even when 50% of the kidney functions are lost.
Serum creatinine is the most commonly used test to assess the health of the kidneys. Creatinine is a product that results from muscle breakdown. Serum creatinine is used as a marker to estimate the kidney functions. However, this marker starts to show changes only when 50% of the kidney functions are lost and therefore it is often combined with another test known as eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate).
Checking for albumin in urine is another important test that is done in these patients and may sometimes be the earliest indication of kidney disease. Albumins are large proteins that are usually not allowed to pass the kidneys and therefore are not seen in urine often. However, when the nephrons are damaged, albumin can easily pass through the nephrons and appear in urine.