Chronic kidney failure
Chronic kidney failure
Chronic kidney failure describes the gradual loss of kidney function. Your kidneys filter wastes and excess fluids from your blood which are then excreted in your urine. When chronic kidney failure damages your kidneys, dangerous levels of fluid and waste can accumulate in your body.
In the early stages of chronic kidney failure, you may have few signs or symptoms. Chronic kidney failure may not become apparent until your kidney function is significantly impaired.
Treatment for chronic kidney failure, also called chronic kidney disease, focuses on slowing the progression of the kidney damage, usually by controlling the underlying cause. Chronic kidney failure can progress to end-stage kidney disease, which is fatal without artificial filtering (dialysis) or a kidney transplant.
Kidney cross section
All your blood flows through your kidneys, which are the key organs in the complex system that removes excess fluid and waste material from the blood. Blood that flows into your kidneys is diffused ...
Signs and symptoms of kidney failure develop slowly over time if kidney damage progresses slowly. Signs and symptoms of kidney failure may include:
Signs and symptoms of kidney failure are often nonspecific, meaning they can also be attributed to other illnesses. In addition, because your kidneys are highly adaptable and able to compensate for lost function, signs and symptoms of kidney failure may not appear until irreversible damage has occurred.
When to see a doctor
If you have a chronic medical condition that increases your risk of chronic kidney failure, your doctor is likely to monitor your blood pressure and kidney function with urine and blood tests during regularly scheduled office visits. Ask your doctor whether these types of tests are right for you.
Chronic kidney failure occurs when a disease or condition impairs kidney function. Over several months or years, this can cause worsening kidney damage.
Diseases and conditions that commonly cause chronic kidney failure include:
Factors that may increase your risk of chronic kidney failure include:
Chronic kidney failure can affect almost every part of your body. Potential complications may include:
Preparing for your appointment
Start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. If tests reveal you have kidney damage, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in kidney problems (nephrologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For chronic kidney failure, some basic questions to ask include:
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment anytime you don't understand something.
Tests and diagnosis
To determine whether you have chronic kidney failure, you may undergo tests and procedures including:
Treatments and drugs
Chronic kidney failure has no cure, but treatment can help control signs and symptoms, reduce complications, and slow the progress of the disease. If your kidneys become severely damaged, you may need treatments for end-stage kidney disease.
Treating the cause of kidney failure
Stopping the underlying condition may slow kidney damage, but sometimes kidney failure worsens despite treatment. Damage to the kidneys can cause stress on the kidneys that continues to worsen even when an underlying condition, such as high blood pressure, has been controlled.
Treating complications of kidney failure
Treatment for end-stage kidney disease
Peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of your abdominal cavity, called the peritoneal membrane, to clean waste from your blood. Your peritoneal cavity is filled with dialysis solution via a catheter. ...
During kidney transplant surgery, the donor kidney is placed in your lower abdomen. Blood vessels of the new kidney are attached to blood vessels in the lower part of your abdomen, just above one of ...
Lifestyle and home remedies
As part of your treatment for chronic kidney disease, your doctor may recommend a special diet to help support your kidneys and limit the work they must do. Ask your doctor for a referral to a dietitian who can analyze your current diet and suggest ways to make your diet easier on your kidneys.
Depending on your situation, your kidney function and your overall health, your dietitian may recommend that you:
Coping and support
Receiving a diagnosis of chronic kidney failure can be worrisome. You may be concerned about what your diagnosis means for your future health. With time, you'll discover ways to help you cope with your feelings. Until you find what works for you, consider trying to:
To reduce your risk of chronic kidney failure, try to:
Last Updated: 2010-05-13
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