Chronic Kidney Disease

Signs of chronic kidney disease may occur so slowly over time that the sufferer may not really realize the problem until a long term progression has occurred. Even when the disease is in advanced stages, there may not be any real decrease in the amount of urine that is produced, but there are other signs. They include fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, frequent urination and swelling of the legs and eyes. In addition to these symptoms, often itching of the skin, bruising, headaches, high blood pressure, chest pain and shortness of breath can accompany some or many of the other symptoms. Because the kidneys play such an important function in all of the body's well-being, chronic kidney disease can be quite serious to the well being of the sufferer if left unchecked or untreated. In fact, renal shutdown can occur in some cases.

High blood pressure is one of the real enemies of kidney health. Blood pressure needs to be at 130/80 consistently to keep damage from occurring to the kidneys so if it is higher, the doctor will prescribe medicine to bring the pressure down. There are several different types of medications available, each doing something different to bring down the pressure. It may take some time for you and your physician to find the right combination to consistently bring down the blood pressure numbers. It should be noted that relaxation techniques, if used regularly, can also help bring down the blood pressure numbers in conjunction with your use of medication. Smoking is a huge detriment to healthy urological function and can contribute greatly to chronic kidney disease. Additionally, the amount of protein ingested, usually in the forms of red meat can also contribute to this disorder.

Cholesterol can also be a contributor to chronic kidney disease, and if this is true in a patient with urological issues, the doctor will have to address this problem through medication and the insistence of a particular diet low in fat. This disease can erode bones because of the loss of calcium and phosphorus. Appetite can be suppressed and if not addressed, bodily weakness can happen. This disease certainly is interrelated with so many other functions of the human body. But for Christians, their heavenly Father is also the Great Physician and can go to Him with all their health concerns. And even though God does not always answer in the way we would like, His love is forever faithful to us. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities and who healeth all thy diseases, who redeemeth thy life from the destruction who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies." (Psalm 103: 3-5)

Sadly, there are times when this disease is unstoppable in barrage on the urological system and the kidneys stop functioning. When chronic kidney disease produces kidney failure as is sometimes can, dialysis is the next logical step. At about the time the kidneys only have about ten percent functionality, the patient will need to be connected to a machine on a regular basis that helps remove waste, salt and extra water from the body. This process keeps a safe level of chemicals in the body such as potassium and sodium and can help control blood pressure. Dialysis at a center lasts about four hours and must occur three times a week. If the patient does not have a reversal of the disease, dialysis will have to continue for the rest of the patient's life. It is expensive, but the federal government does pay eighty percent of the cost of such treatment while health insurance often picks up most of the rest.

While diabetes and high blood pressure are the two main culprits in chronic kidney disease, there may be some hereditary factors for some people. If chronic kidney disease has run in one's family, it is absolutely critical that regular checkups of the renal system be done with one's family doctor. And non-white races are more susceptible to this disorder. African Americans are four times as likely to contract this disease as whites. American Indians have three times the risk as whites and Hispanics are twice as likely to get this disease as whites. Additionally, lead poisoning can lead to damage and the use of NSAIDs such as Aleve may also damage the kidneys when used for long term issues such as arthritis relief.

There are various suggestions for maintaining the health of one's kidneys, including the drinking of plenty of water each day. One website recommends the once a month drinking of watermelon seed tea which includes pouring a pint of boiling water over crushed watermelon seeds; the site says this will help cleanse the kidneys for a needed once a month catharsis. Many sites do recommend that tea, coffee and caffeinated drinks only be consumed in moderation to prevent kidney stones and that light to moderate exercise is also important. Since naturopathic websites abound, one can look on line to see what other kinds of suggestions are made for kidney detoxification, but the best advice is to check with one's doctor before beginning any herbal regimen. Pay attention to your body for little signs of possible chronic kidney disease such as swelling in the feet, lower back pain and perhaps holding water in other parts of the body. Listen to everything your doctor says and if you have doubts, seek a second opinion.

Kidney Disease Treatment

Nephrologists determine kidney disease treatment based on preexisting conditions and the degree to which the organs have been damaged. Kidney disease may include mild to extensive disorders which limit their function. But before physicians can prescribe treatment, health conditions which contribute toward malfunctioning must be addressed. The leading causes of failure are high blood pressure, or hypertension; diabetes; and cardiovascular disease. Patients that experience disorders due to hypertension should have blood pressure monitored and begin taking prescribed medications which will not interfere with kidney disease treatment. Individuals diagnosed with diabetes are also placed on medication and restrictive diets which limit glucose intake. Heart patients may suffer from congestive heart failure; atherosclerosis; arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats; or blockages which obstruct the flow of oxygen-enriched blood to the kidneys. Urinary tract infections, uremic syndrome, and anemia are also considerations. People with sickle cell anemia, a blood disorder which causes red blood cells to form sickled shapes, experience fluid retention and joint pain and are also prone kidney disorders.

Once doctors have properly diagnosed overt and covert conditions, kidney disease treatment begins with trying to eliminate or control disorders which contribute to decreased organ viability, with the idea of restoring functionality. The kidneys are two fist-shaped organs which filter toxins and waste products from the body in the form of urine. Part of the urinary tract, the organs are essential to proper elimination of waste and toxins; and the overall health of an individual. Without the kidneys or an artifical machine, death would be certain. Kidney disease treatment includes blood and urine tests to determine the extent of damage. Urologists try to detect the presence of infection, or glucose or protein in the urine, an indication of insulin dependent diabetes mellitus or damage to the glomeruli, which filter the kidneys of waste products. A creatinine test will determine the amount of creatinine in the blood and the rate the organs are being filtered. Chronic kidney disease is rated in stages from one to five. At stage one, the glomeruli are filtering at a normal rate; conversely stage four indicates a severe decrease in functionality.

Regardless of the diagnosis, patients who suffer from high blood pressure or diabetes must remain on medication to prevent the force of the blood flowing to the kidneys from damaging vessels or the organ itself; and from excessively high blood sugar levels, which cause abnormal amounts of protein in the urine. A nephrologist can conduct intensive testing or a biopsy to determine the extent of damage. A biopsy examines a small tissue sample to determine the type of disorder prior to prescribing kidney disease treatment. While patients at stages one through three can improve with sustained medication; individuals that suffer organ failure or chronic deterioration must go on dialysis. A diagnosis of kidney failure can be devastating, but God is able to heal every disease; and for this very purpose, Jesus Christ shed His blood at Calvary's Cross. "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).

As a standard kidney disease treatment, dialysis involves artificially filtering the blood through a system of special tubing, then replacing it back into the patient's body. In hemodialysis, patients are hooked up to an artificial kidney machine, which does the function of a normal organ in cleansing the blood. Nephrologists place a permanent port, which is a rigid tube, inside the patient's leg or arm. Patients are hooked up to the machine generally three times per week to have the blood cleansed and re-circulated back into the body. Peritoneal dialysis utilizes the abdominal lining, also called the peritoneal membrane, to filter the blood from toxins and waste products. A port is surgically placed in the abdomen along with tubing, through which a filtering solution can be sent through the patient's abdominal cavity to cleanse it of waste products, circulate and drain. Some patients use portable units at home, making it more convenient for them to repeat the process overnight every twenty-four hours.

While on kidney disease treatment or dialysis, patients must adhere to a strict diet plan prescribed by the nephrologist to regulate individual intake of fluids and solid foods. Certain foods are prohibited, especially highly-salted meats, starches, sweets, and breads. Patients are susceptible to fluid retention; and limiting salt intake helps keep a proper balance. Dialysis patients may experience side effects, such as nausea and vomiting immediately following procedures or hours later. Other symptoms include chronic fatigue, and adverse reaction to eating certain foods. African American patients, in particular, may experience a darkening of the complexion due to the dialysis; and many individuals may have difficulty controlling weight due to fluid buildup. However, people that religiously follow the doctor's orders, keep regular dialysis appointments, and stick to a rigid diet can usually live long, productive lives.

At stage five, which is also called end stage renal disease, patients with chronic kidney disease treatment may elect to have a transplant, which frees them from having dialysis for the rest of their lives. Like other vital organs, kidneys are not in large supply. Family members, spouses, or offspring may be tested to determine if they meet the requirements for donating an organ. People can and do live with only one kidney; therefore organ donation is not life threatening. Victims of automobile accidents or airplane crashes may have also signed a donor card giving doctors permission to harvest vital organs upon their death in order to help those in need. Living donors must be prepped prior to surgical removal of the normal organ and placement inside the recipient's body. The surgeon's main concern will be that the patient does not reject the new organ and that both donor and recipient have good outcomes. With expert care and vigilant adherence to prescribed regimens, the prognosis is good for dialysis and transplant patients.

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