Chronic renal failure, or chronic kidney disease, may not cause symptoms until it is very advanced. Find out what it is, what its causes are and what medical treatments are followed.
The kidneys, as is the case with the liver, are fundamental organs in the detoxification and purification of our body, especially because they are responsible for the elimination of those toxins and waste that our body does not need. They consist of a pair of organs with a shape or appearance that is very reminiscent of beans or snap beans, and that are the size of a closed fist (about 13 centimeters long and 8 centimeters wide).
We find them in the back of the abdominal cavity, located just above the waist. In the case of the right kidney, it rests under the liver, while the left kidney rests under the diaphragm. As far as their main functions are concerned, they are essential in the detoxification and purification of our body, which is why it is always essential to purify the kidneys at least once a year.
There are several diseases and disorders that can affect the kidneys. The most common and usual are kidney stones, although it is true that what is known as kidney pain can appear for other reasons: the presence of cysts, kidney inflammation, infections or more serious diseases such as kidney cancer.
What is chronic kidney failure?
Also known by the name of chronic kidney disease, it is a disease that causes a progressive and irreversible loss of the different functions of the kidney.
This degree of involvement, which should be for another 3 months, is determined with a blood glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of <60 ml/min/1.73m2.
The result of this condition is more than obvious: the kidneys lose their ability to carry out their basic functions, such as removing waste and toxins, conserving electrolytes in the blood, and concentrating urine.
Chronic kidney failure symptoms
Given that the first symptoms that tend to appear as a result of chronic renal failure are usually non-specific, being -in fact- the same as for many other diseases and health disorders, the symptoms at the beginning can be:
- Feeling of general malaise.
- Fatigue and nausea.
- Loss of appetite
- Pruritus (generalized itching of the skin).
On the other hand, when kidney function has worsened, the following symptoms may occur:
- Dark or very light skin.
- Drowsiness, trouble thinking or concentrating.
- Numbness, swelling in the hands and feet.
- Bad breath.
- Bruising or blood in the stool.
- Frequent hiccups.
- Excessive thirst.
- Problems related to sexual activity.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Vomiting, especially in the morning.
We must bear in mind that the loss of kidney function is very slow in most cases, so it is common for symptoms to not appear at the beginning, until the kidneys have almost stopped working.
Causes of chronic kidney failure
Medical specialists establish two common causes for which chronic renal failure arises. Fundamentally it is due to diabetes and high blood pressure.
However, it can also be caused by other disorders and other diseases:
- Problems with the kidneys: kidney disease, congenital kidney abnormalities (polycystic kidney disease), injury, infection, kidney stones, or reflux nephropathy (reverse flow of urine into the kidneys).
- Certain toxic chemicals or drugs, such as pain relievers or drugs to treat cancer.
How is it diagnosed?
There are several tests and analyzes that are performed to diagnose the possible existence of chronic renal failure. For example, a urinalysis can detect urine protein or other changes, which can occur 6 months to 10 years—or more—before symptoms appear.
Basically, the tests that are performed are: keratinize clearance, analysis of keratinize levels, and BUN. When there are kidney problems, it is common, for example, for high blood keratinize to appear.
When the diagnosis of chronic kidney disease occurs, it is usual to have blood tests every 2 or 3 months, especially when the disease worsens. In this sense, the values that change are usually: cholesterol, albumin, electrolytes, complete blood count, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium.
Treatment of chronic renal failure
When it comes to caring for the kidneys, it is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle, making certain changes that can be very useful when it comes to protecting the kidneys:
- Avoid smoking and consuming alcohol.
- Avoid consuming foods rich in fat and cholesterol, and adding salt.
- Get regular exercise.
- Control blood pressure.
From a medical point of view, there are some treatments that can be useful, such as drugs that prevent high levels of phosphorus, drugs for the treatment of anemia, calcium and vitamin D.
On the other hand, when the kidneys do not have the ability to remove waste and excess fluid from the body, dialysis or a kidney transplant is needed.