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What are the signs of kidney disease?

kidneys highlightedPeople in the early stages of kidney disease may not feel sick at all. The first signs that you are sick may be general: frequent headaches or feeling tired or itchy all over your body. If your kidney disease gets worse, you may need to urinate more often or less often. You may lose your appetite or experience nausea and vomiting. Your hands or feet may swell or feel numb. You may get drowsy or have trouble concentrating. Your skin may darken. You may have muscle cramps.

what happens if my kidneys fail completely?

If your kidneys stop working completely, your body fills with extra water and waste products. This condition is called uremia. Your hands and feet may swell. You will feel tired and weak because your body needs clean blood to function properly.

Untreated end-stage renal disease may lead to seizures or coma and will ultimately result in death. If your kidneys stop working completely, you will need to undergo dialysis or kidney transplant.

dialysis

The two major forms of dialysis are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. In hemodialysis, your blood is sent through a machine that filters away waste products. The clean blood is returned to your body. Hemodialysis is usually performed at a dialysis center three times per week for four hours.

In peritoneal dialysis, a fluid is put into your abdomen. This fluid, called dialysate, captures the waste products from your blood. After a few hours, the dialysate containing your body’s wastes is drained away. Then, a fresh bag of dialysate is dripped into the abdomen, Patients can learn to do this themselves without going to a doctor’s office each time. Patients using continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD), the most common form of peritoneal dialysis, change dialysate four times daily.

transplantation

A donated kidney may come from an anonymous donor who has recently died or from a living person, usually a relative. The kidney that you receive must be a good match for your body. The more the new kidney is like you, the less likely your immune system is to reject it. Your immune system protects you from disease by attacking anything that is not recognized as a normal part of your body. So your immune system will attack a kidney that appears too “foreign”. Special drugs can help trick your immune system so it does not reject a transplanted kidney.

points to remember

  • Your kidneys are vital organs, keeping your blood clean and chemically balanced
  • The progression of kidney disease can be slowed, but in cannot be reversed.
  • End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) is the total loss of kidney function.
  • Dialysis and transplantation can extend the lives of people with ESRD.
  • Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of kidney failure.
  • Your should see a nephrologist regularly if you have kidney disease.

If you are in the early stages of renal disease, you may be able to save your remaining renal function for many years by:

  • Controlling your blood sugar.
  • Controlling your blood pressure.
  • Following a low-protein diet.
  • Maintain healthy levels of cholesterol in your blood.
  • Taking a ACE inhibitor if you have diabetes.