Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a gradual, progressive condition where the kidneys suffer damage over time and lose their ability to properly filter the blood. Approximately 26 million adults in the U.S. have CKD and millions more are at risk. In the early stages, you may not know your kidneys are not working optimally because they have a remarkable ability to compensate. High risk groups include those with diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), and family history of kidney disease. Early detection and treatment to manage CKD can slow the progression of the disease and prevent kidney failure so it is critical to be tested routinely if you are in a high risk group.
Early detection of CKD is extremely important as the goal in treating CKD is to slow progression and prevent the need for dialysis down the road. This is accomplished through aggressive treatment of the underlying diseases causing CKD. The most common cause of CKD is diabetes followed by hypertension (high blood pressure).
Chronic Kidney Disease can easily be found by drawing simple lab tests, such as a metabolic panel. Within a metabolic panel, the marker that is primarily used to evaluate your kidney function is creatinine. Creatinine is a byproduct of muscle use and is cleared by the kidneys. Based on your creatinine we are able to measure your kidney function. Blood urea nitrogen (another waste product of the body) is also used along with creatinine as a marker of kidney function.
Chronic Kidney Disease is a “silent” condition meaning that there are few, seemingly subtle, symptoms in the early stages. Knowing the symptoms of kidney disease can help people detect it early enough to get treatment. Symptoms can include:
If you believe you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about your concerns. This is especially important if you have a close family member who has kidney disease, or if you have diabetes or high blood pressure, which are the main causes of kidney failure.