Chronic Kidney Disease: Everything You Need to Know

Data presented by experts back in 2018 have shown that more and more Filipinos are being affected with kidney disease with the possibility of resulting in their deaths. In fact, an estimated increase of 10-12 percent per year was seen in the number of new patients undergoing dialysis at that time, with chronic kidney disease (CKD) being one of the primary causes of mortality in the country, seeing a rise in the statistics as early as 2017. Because of this, doctors have considered the disease as a “silent killer,” with afflicted patients experiencing no symptoms until their kidneys shut down completely. While it’s not the top cause of mortality in the country, it is among the top 10, according to  a report presented during the kick-off of World Kidney Month back in 2017.

But in learning all this information, a question remains: what exactly is chronic kidney disease?:

Chronic Kidney Disease: The Basics

In a nutshell, chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition where you gradually lose kidney function. Part of this disease includes conditions that damage your kidneys, decreasing their ability to keep you healthy by filtering and removing waste products – also known as urea – from your blood and regulating the fluid balance of your body. If you have CKD and it worsens, urea will build up and cause you to feel sick, which could possibly lead to complications such as high blood pressure, low blood count, weak bones, poor nutritional health, and even nerve damage. To make matters worse, CKD can also lead to heart and blood vessel diseases, which may possibly remain undetected over an undetermined period of time.

What causes chronic kidney disease? 

If you’ve been diagnosed by your doctor with CKD, it means that it didn’t happen all of a sudden; as mentioned earlier, symptoms can remain undetected over a long period of time – often in years – making it a slow process, only for you to become surprised one day once you start feeling a significant loss of kidney function. While It’s possible for the disease to be caused by immune system ailments, chronic diseases that inflame the kidneys, family history, as well as problems that disrupt the flow of urine, there are essentially 2 two main culprits: salt and sugar. This only means to say that CKD is most often a result of either diabetes, high blood pressure, extended use of pain relievers, or a combination of any of the three. 

In the Philippines, health practitioners link the increase in numbers to obesity – caused by an unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle leading to diabetes – as well as a combination of diabetes and high blood pressure, which may then progress to kidney disease.

The Look-Out List

Age does not play a role in determining who gets kidney diseases; anyone from any age group can get the disease. However, some people are more likely to develop CKD than others. If you are either a diabetic, hypertensive, have a family history of kidney failure, or belong to a population group with a high rate of diabetes or hypertension, then you need to be aware that you may have an increased risk for kidney disease. Unfortunately, Asians are part of that list, so it would be best for you to be on the lookout for the following signs:

  • You feel more fatigued and have less energy to perform your usual activities
  • You have difficulty concentrating
  • Your appetite has greatly decreased
  • You have trouble sleeping
  • You experience muscle cramps at night
  • Your feet and ankles feel swollen
  • Your eyes feel puffy especially when you wake up in the morning
  • You’re experiencing dry, itchy skin
  • You feel the need to urinate more often, especially at night

Do keep in mind that experiencing any of the aforementioned signs doesn’t automatically equate to you having CKD; what it means is that you need to get yourself checked by a specialist in order to make a proper and accurate diagnosis.

Stages of CKD

As CKD happens over time, there are stages that you go through before actually getting the disease. As your kidney function begins its decline, you go through 5 stages, each one showing a decrease in the protein levels found in your urine, measured according to your Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR).

STAGEGFR LevelPOTENTIAL SYMPTOMS
190 or moreFew symptoms in Stage 1 and 2.
260 to 90Few symptoms in Stage 1 and 2.
330 to 59Anemia and/or early bone disease; increased fatigue may be a sign
415 to 30Previous symptoms may worsen
5Less than 15Fatigue, decreased appetite, and nausea, possible problems with fluid retention

As you go through each stage, more symptoms begin to manifest. For the first 2 stages, symptoms would tend to be barely noticeable, if any; however, reaching the 4th stage will necessitate the need for dialysis and/or transplant. Upon reaching this point, an assessment by a surgeon is required in order to determine the applicable course of treatment. It would also be essential for you to attend classes geared towards CKD awareness, which will explain the types of therapy such as dialysis, transplant, and conservative care.

So, you have CKD…now what?

CKD, considered by doctors as the “silent killer” among kidney diseases, used to be considered a death sentence because it doesn’t go away. The good news, however, is that it can be treated in order to keep it from getting worse, and it begins with doing your part in keeping your CKD at bay. You can slow the progression of your disease by:

  • Managing your other medical conditions by following your treatment plan for diabetes or hypertension
  • Living a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, getting more physical activity, and quitting smoking
  • Modifying your diet by limiting your sodium and excess sugar intake; this means cutting down on your favorite snack combo (potato chips, salted crackers, pancit canton, paired with your go-to juice mixes and/or softdrinks), even your ever-reliable canned meat (luncheon meat, corned beef, even canned tuna)
  • Taking your medications correctly
  • Avoiding medications that can affect your kidneys (eg. Ibuprofen)

Once it’s determined that you have CKD, it’s not enough that you make certain lifestyle changes; you also need to see a specialist on a regular basis in order to be made aware of your current kidney condition as well as to be given proper treatment protocols, one of which would be dialysis treatments. This is where MedLine Dialysis Center comes into the picture. As the Philippines’ first and fastest-growing dialysis center franchise, MedLine has branches set up at strategic locations, bringing quality and affordable dialysis treatments closer to where you are, ready to provide Malasakit na Tunay to every Filipino dialysis patient in need of treatment.

SOURCES:
https://today.mims.com/the-state-of-kidney-disease-in-the-philippines–preventable–treatable–but-lacking-in-donors
https://pia.gov.ph/news/articles/1008722
https://intermountainhealthcare.org/ckr-ext/Dcmnt?ncid=527736330
https://www.davita.com/education/kidney-disease/symptoms/understanding-chronic-kidney-disease
https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/about-chronic-kidney-disease#ckd
https://nephcure.org/livingwithkidneydisease/what-is-kidney-disease-2/

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