Chronic kidney disease is defined as having some type of kidney abnormality, or "marker", such as protein in the urine and having decreased kidney function for three months or longer.
There are many causes of chronic kidney disease. The kidneys may be affected by diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Some kidney conditions are inherited (run in families).
Others are congenital; that is, inpiduals may be born with an abnormality that can affect their kidneys. The following are some of the most common types and causes of kidney damage.
Diabetes is a disease in which your body does not make enough insulin or cannot use normal amounts of insulin properly. This results in a high blood sugar level, which can cause problems in many parts of your body. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease.
High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is another common cause of kidney disease and other complications such as heart attacks and strokes. High blood pressure occurs when the force of blood against your artery walls increases. When high blood pressure is controlled, the risk of complications such as chronic kidney disease is decreased.
Glomerulonephritis is a disease that causes inflammation of the kidney's tiny filtering units called the glomeruli. Glomerulonephritis may happen suddenly, for example, after a strep throat, and the inpidual may get well again.However, the disease may develop slowly over several years and it may cause progressive loss of kidney function.
Polycystic kidney disease is the most common inherited kidney disease. It is characterized by the formation of kidney cysts that enlarge over time and may cause serious kidney damage and even kidney failure. Other inherited diseases that affect the kidneys include Alport's Syndrome,primary hyperoxaluria and cystinuria.
Kidney stones are very common, and when they pass, they may cause severe pain in your back and side. There are many possible causes of kidney stones, including an inherited disorder that causes too much calcium to be absorbed from foods and urinary tract infections or obstructions. Sometimes, medications and diet can help to prevent recurrent stone formation. In cases where stones are too large to pass, treatments may be done to remove the stones or break them down into small pieces that can pass out of the body.
Urinary tract infections occur when germs enter the urinary tract and cause symptoms such as pain and/or burning during urination and more frequent need to urinate. These infections most often affect the bladder, but they sometimes spread to the kidneys, and they may cause fever and pain in your back.
Congenital diseases may also affect the kidneys. These usually involve some problem that occurs in the urinary tract when a baby is developing in its mother's womb. One of the most common occurs when a valve-like mechanism between the bladder and ureter (urine tube) fails to work properly and allows urine to back up (reflux) to the kidneys, causing infections and possible kidney damage.
Drugs and toxins can also cause kidney problems. Using large numbers of over-the-counter pain relievers for a long time may be harmful to the kidneys. Certain other medications, toxins, pesticides and "street" drugs such as heroin and crack can also cause kidney damage
How is Chronic Kidney Disease Detected?
Early detection and treatment of chronic kidney disease are the keys to keeping kidney disease from progressing to kidney failure. Some simple tests can be done to detect early kidney disease. They are:
1.A test for protein in the urine. Albumin to Creatinine Ratio (ACR), estimates the amount of a albumin that is in your urine. An excess amount of protein in your urine may mean your kidney's filtering units have been damaged by disease. One positive result could be due to fever or heavy exercise, so your doctor will want to confirm your test over several weeks.
2.A test for blood creatinine. Your doctor should use your results, along with your age, race, gender and other factors, to calculate your glomerular filtration rate (GFR). Your GFR tells how much kidney function you have. To access the GFR calculator, click here.
It is especially important that people who have an increased risk for chronic kidney disease have these tests. You may have an increased risk for kidney disease if you:
have high blood pressure
have a family member who has chronic kidney disease
are an African American, Hispanic American, Asians and Pacific Islander or American Indian.
If you are in one of these groups or think you may have an increased risk for kidney disease, ask your doctor about getting tested.
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