LIVING WITH CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE: EVERYTHING YOU’LL NEED TO KNOW

If you have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), there’s really no way for the damage dealt to your kidneys to be reversed, but there’s no need to be scared for your future because it is manageable. In fact, the sooner it becomes detected, the better. This is because kidney damage can lead to heart disease, and this will make things worse. Like with any sickness, there’s always hope that your health would improve, and this starts with knowing how CKD is diagnosed, how it’s usually treated, and the changes that you’ll need to make in order to prevent any further damage to your kidneys.

Diagnosing the Disease
The very first thing you’ll need to know is how CKD is being diagnosed. In many cases, CKD is determined when either your blood or urine test  shows that your kidneys may not be functioning normally. You need to go to the doctor if you’re constantly feeling certain symptoms, such as:

  • Weight loss/poor appetite
  • Swollen ankles, feet, or hands
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Blood in your urine
  • Peeing more than usual, especially at night

Do take note that while CKD doesn’t have any symptoms in its early stages, you have a bigger risk of getting it and need to be tested regularly, especially if you have any of the following:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Severe kidney injury
  • Heart disease
  • Other conditions that can affect your kidneys: kidney stones, enlarged prostate, lupus, etc.
  • Family history of kidney disease
  • Presence of protein or blood in your urine without any known cause

If your doctor informs you that you’re being diagnosed with CKD, this means that your sickness was a long time coming. Symptoms can remain undetected for years, causing your kidneys to lack in performance to do their usual functions. The usual suspects that cause this are excessive salt and sugar intake (meaning to say that your CKD is often a result of either diabetes), high blood pressure, excessive use of pain relievers, or a mix of the three. These often lead to problems with your immune system or chronic diseases that cause your kidneys to swell, and even issues with urination. It doesn’t help at all if you either have family history, have not been making ideal eating choices, and constantly sitting down even when you need to stand up and work. All these, as well as a combination of high blood pressure and diabetes, can lead to kidney disease.

As mentioned earlier, CKD isn’t just something that happens overnight; you go through 5 different stages before catching it, with more symptoms manifesting as you go through each one. If you’re a diabetic, it’s best that you get checked every year. If you’re hypertensive, suffering a heart problem, or have a history of kidney failure in your family, then you need to talk to your doctor and discuss how often you should get tested.

Treating CKD
The good news is that with modern healthcare technology and practices, CKDcan be treated to keep it at bay. This might not mean your kidneys would heal completely because the damage dealt to your kidneys at this point cannot be reversed, but it can be dealt with to keep it from completely deteriorating. 

While there is no specific medicine that can address CKD, there are ways to greatly help control many of the problems that may become its cause as well as its many potential complications. Also, since there’s no way to reverse the damage your kidneys now have, there has to be something else that would take over for your kidneys and perform their functions in their place. In the Philippines, the more common options offered to patients are either a transplant or hemodialysis.

Managing the Disease
Managing CKD requires early detection of kidney disease as this means immediate treatment plans can be discussed in order to prevent any further damage to your kidneys and to improve your overall health. Here are 10 things you can do in order to manage CKD:

  1. Check your blood pressure
    Controlling your blood pressure is the most important step in treating kidney disease as high blood pressure can hurt your kidneys. You can keep this from happening by keeping your blood pressure checked regularly, maintaining it based on goals that you and your doctor will agree on.
  2. Hit your blood glucose goal
    This is a must if you’re a diabetic patient. Use your test results to guide you in making decisions regarding the food you eat, your physical activities, and the medicines you’ll take. Visit your doctor to know how often you should check your blood sugar levels!
  3. Monitor your kidney health
    You can use your kidney test results to check if there are any changes to your kidneys in terms of damage and function. Consult with your doctor and have him/her compare your current and previous results, with your goals being: a) to keep your kidney function the same, and; b) to keep your urine albumin the same or lower.
  4. Take your medicines as prescribed
    You might also need to take “water pills” in addition to your prescription for blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose. It’s highly possible that it may change if your kidney disease gets worse.

    You might also be taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) without realizing it if you take painkillers. These can potentially damage your kidneys and lead to acute kidney injury, especially if you have either kidney disease, diabetes, or hypertension.
  5. Create a meal plan
    If your kidney disease worsens, you’ll need to change . Consult with a dietitian knowledgeable about kidney disease in order to create a meal plan that includes foods which are healthy for you and you can still enjoy.
  6. Make physical activity a part of your routine
    Even a simple 30-minute exercise routine can do you a lot of good; it can help reduce your stress, lose weight, and achieve your blood pressure as well as blood glucose goals. Talk to your doctor about his/her recommendations for you on this.
  7. Watch your weight
    Obesity will make your kidneys work harder and could lead to damage. There are online tools that can help you monitor your food/calorie intake and physical activity plans in order to achieve a healthy weight and maintain it. 
  8. Get enough sleep
    Quality sleep is important, not just to your kidney health, but to your overall physical and mental health. It can also help you maintain both your blood pressure and blood glucose, with the recommended amount averaging between 7-8 hours each night.
  9. Stop smoking
    Smoking can also make things worse for your kidneys. Quitting may help keep your blood pressure in check – something that is beneficial for your kidneys – and can lower any risks for a heart attack or stroke.
  10. Find ways to cope with stress and depression
    Long-term stress can also affect both your blood pressure and blood glucose, raising them both and leading to depression. The good news is that some of the steps you’re taking to manage your kidney disease are also healthy ways to cope with stress.

The Last Word
As was mentioned earlier, modern technology and practices have made us able to keep CKD at bay. At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do is to manage your diabetes and high blood pressure, as everything starts from there. But it’s not just enough that you keep these in check; you also need to live healthy. To help make sure that your quality of life is not compromised despite what you’re facing now, access to healthcare providers such as dialysis centers has never been this convenient. MedLine Dialysis Center, the country’s fastest growing dialysis franchise, delivers quality and affordable dialysis treatments closer to you. With the goal of providing Malasakit na Tunay, branches have been set up at strategic locations, making treatment available to every Filipino dialysis patient in dire need of it.

SOURCES: 
https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/chronic-kidney-disease-ckd/managing
https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/newly-diagnosed-heres-what-you-need-know
https://www.healthline.com/health/kidney-health/how-to-prevent-kidney-failure#treatment
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/kidney-disease/treatment/

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