In the United States, about 14% of the population is affected by chronic kidney disease (CKD). About 661,000 Americans are in kidney failure, with a majority of them being on dialysis. About 193,000 Americans who have suffered with CKD have had a kidney transplant. If you have concerns about chronic kidney disease, knowing the answers to these three frequently asked questions about CKD will help you better understand the disease.
1. Who Is at Risk For Getting Chronic Kidney Disease?
Chronic kidney disease is usually associated with other medical conditions. For instance, those who have diabetes, high blood pressure, or recurrent kidney infections may be at an increased risk of getting CKD. Other risk factors for getting this disease include:
It's important to note that having these risk factors doesn't necessarily mean someone will have chronic kidney disease.
2. What Are the Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease?
Unfortunately, in its earliest stages, there are no symptoms of chronic kidney disease. Symptoms usually begin well after the kidney has not been functioning normally. This means that symptoms are usually not present until there are significant problems with kidney function. In its later stages, some of the more common signs of CKD include:
When the kidney is damaged or not functioning properly, it can result in fluid retention. When the fluid reaches the heart and lungs, it can cause shortness of breath and chest pain.
3. How is Chronic Kidney Disease Treated?
In most cases, anytime there is a problem with the kidneys, the patient sees a kidney specialist called a nephrologist. If you suspect you are having problems with your kidneys, a nephrologist will be able to make a proper diagnosis and determine the most effective chronic kidney disease treatment. This treatment will largely depend on the cause of the kidney damage.
Since there are five stages of kidney disease, it will also depend on which stage of kidney disease you are in. In cases where the kidney disease has reached the fifth and final stage, which is when failure occurs, dialysis or a kidney transplant may be necessary. In most instances, it can take years for the kidney to begin to fail.
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