What is Chronic Kidney Disease?
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) means your kidneys do not function
normally. The main function of kidney is filtering the blood; we measure kidney
function by a term called Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) or filtration rate. In
the early stages, most people do not have symptoms.
2. What Causes CKD?
The two main causes of chronic kidney disease in the US
are diabetes and high blood pressure, which are
responsible for up to two-thirds of the cases. Other conditions are: glomerulonephritis
(an inflammation of the filtering
units of the kidneys), the third most common type of kidney
disease; inherited diseases, such as polycystic kidney disease,
Alport’s Disease; malformations at birth that occur as a baby
develops; lupus and other immune diseases; obstructions such
as kidney stones or an enlarged prostate; and repeated urinary tract
infections. There are many other less common causes.
3. Who is at Risk for CKD?
1 in 3 American adults is at risk for kidney
disease. Anyone can get chronic kidney disease at any age. Some groups are
at higher risk. The prevalence among African Americans is roughly three
times higher than whites, and nearly 1.5 times higher for Hispanics. Asians
and Native Americans have a prevalence higher than whites. In patients aged 65-74, 1 in 5 men and 1 in 4
women have CKD
4. Can CKD be Treated? (Part 1)
The best treatment is early detection when chronic kidney
disease can be slowed or stopped. Early treatment often depends on the
5. Can CKD be Treated? (Part 2)
There is no one medication that patients can take to “cure or
fix” CKD. The underlying cause usually determines what medications are chosen.
6. What are the complications of CKD
Damaged kidneys can lead to many other problems which you
ordinarily wouldn’t associate to the kidneys, such as high blood pressure,
anemia, vitamin D deficiency and hyperparathyroidism. In addition, your kidneys
may not be able to “get rid of” all the salt and water you take in, so you can
7. When will I feel sick from CKD?
Most people don’t feel anything specific, and everyone is
different. However, as your GFR drops,
problems may occur as early as a GFR in the mid 30’s. Usually, people don’t
feel sick until right before they need to begin dialysis, which is usually a
filtration rate of 10 or lower. Some people will feel sick earlier.
8. What happens when my kidneys fail and I get sick?
You will likely need some type of dialysis. You should speak
with your kidney doctor well ahead of time so that you are ready to begin
dialysis when the time comes. If you are healthy enough, a kidney transplant
can be done.
9. Why do I have to be on so many medicines?
CKD causes many problems that need to be treated. Unfortunately,
this means many different medications to take care of the problems you develop.
Talk to your kidney doctor about which medications can possibly be stopped and
when. If your kidney doctor does give you a medication, please do not stop it
unless you speak to the doctor, or the medication makes you sick. Be sure to
speak with your kidney doctor.
10. Are there medications I shouldn’t take when I have CKD?
YES! Over the counter (OTC) pain medications (Motrin, Alleve,
Advil, Ibuprofen, Naprosyn) and prescription medications related to them
(NSAID’s) may worsen kidney disease and can even cause kidney disease on their
own in certain people. Medications for your stomach can also cause kidney
disease—Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s) have been linked to CKD. If you are on
one of these medications (Prolosec, Nexium, prevacid) speak with your kidney
doctor or GI doctor whether you really need them or there is an alternative.
Some medications may need lower doses as your kidneys get worse. Again, ask
your kidney doctor. Remember—not all mediations need prescriptions, so it is
important to tell your kidney doctor about all medications, prescribed or OTC.