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What is Chronic Kidney Disease and Kidney Failure?
It is not uncommon for kidney problems to go undiagnosed in the early stages. When kidney problems progress the person might feel tired nauseated or dizzy. They may also have swollen ankles or feet as well as puffy eyes, which are all side effects of the body having trouble getting rid of extra fluid. People with these symptoms need to see a physician.
20 million Americans have Chronic Kidney Disease and another 20 million people are at risk of developing it, particularly those with high blood pressure and diabetes. Early detection can help prevent the progression of kidney diseases to kidney failure. When a person's kidney disease progresses into kidney failure the patient must make important decisions about their treatment. Options include hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis and kidney transplantation. No matter which option you choose, remember you will have to make some changes in your life which might include the food you eat and the activities you participate in. The most important thing to remember is that with the help of your team of healthcare professionals, family and friends you can lead a full and active life.
Kidney Disease: Often Undiagnosed in the Early Stages
When you go to see the doctor for kidney problems they may examine you and ask about your family history as well as current health problems you are experiencing. There are many special tests that the doctor can order to see if you have kidney disease. A doctor will check if you have high blood pressure, as high blood pressure can be either a cause or effect of kidney disease. Other tests include checking the person's urine to see if there is blood or protein present in the urine. Normal urine usually does not contain much of either substance. The doctor will also take a blood sample to check for the creatinine level. Creatinine is a natural waste product that muscles release into the blood and when the levels are elevated it can mean your kidneys are not working properly. Another type of creatinine test often performed on patients with kidney disease is called a creatinine clearance test. This laboratory test requires the patient to collect their urine in a special container over a 24 hour period of time. The collected urine is then brought to the laboratory for testing. This laboratory test helps the doctor determine your glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and is one of the best tests to measure your level of kidney function and determine your stage of kidney disease. Other tests include the doctor checking for growths or blockages by using various means of imaging the kidney and related structures. These procedures may include x-rays, ultrasound scans, and CAT scans. Sometimes the doctor might take a sample of the kidney tissue, in a process known as a biopsy. With a biopsy, a small piece of the kidney is sampled with a needle and looked at under a microscope by a doctor. Often this procedure is performed when the patient has been given anesthesia to keep the person comfortable during this type of procedure.
Kidney Disease Treatment Options: A Brief Overview
If you've been diagnosed with kidney failure, you will need to make important decisions about your treatment. Typically, your options include hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis or kidney transplantation. (see article: Treating Kidney Disease: The Basics of Dialysis)
No matter which option you choose, you also will have to make some changes in your life, including the food you eat and the activities you participate in. The most important thing to remember is that with the help of your healthcare team, family and friends, you can lead a full and active life.