Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

What is CKD?

This is usually diagnosed by a blood test.  It is a long term condition where, in some cases, the function of the kidneys very slowly reduces. This means the kidneys are not as able to do their usual jobs, such as removing excess water and waste from the body. It means we should take special care of your kidneys.

This is a very common condition with 1 in 7 adults having CKD.  50% of people aged over 75 have some degree of CKD, however most of these people do not actually have diseases of their kidneys; they have normal ageing of their kidneys.  The vast majority of people have mild to moderate disease which will not progress to a serious illness.

What causes CKD?

CKD develops over a long time and is often caused by general wear and tear on the kidney that occurs with age and also some very common medical problems. For example:

  • Diabetes
  • Furred up blood vessels (vascular disease)
  • High blood pressure

What are the symptoms of CKD?

In mild-moderate CKD people usually have no symptoms. Most people only develop symptoms when they have very advanced kidney disease.

The main symptoms people experience is mild fatigue. Some people get fluid retention that can cause ankle swelling and breathlessness. People with very advanced kidney disease may get more symptoms, however they will be under the care of the hospital based kidney specialists

How to keep your kidneys healthy:

  • Lifestyle

You should eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy body weight. You should have a diet low in salt. You should aim to keep up regular and gentle exercise. It is very important to stop smoking if you are a smoker

  • Medication:
  • Your blood pressure should be kept under control; you may need medication for this. We will call you in to check your blood pressure at least once a year
  • Your doctor may advise you go on some cholesterol lowering medication
  • You should have a blood and urine test at least once a year, so that we can monitor your kidneys. It is very important that you attend for these tests
  • There are certain medications that can be harmful for your kidneys. When you see a doctor, pharmacist, dentist or other health professional, you should let them know you have CKD, so that they know to avoid certain medications (this includes some over the counter and alternative therapies). Specifically you should avoid:
    • Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen
    • The antibiotics trimethoprim and nitrofurantoin (used for urine infections)
  • Vaccinations

You may be more vulnerable to infection, so you should ensure you have the flu vaccination every year and that you have had the one off pneumonia vaccination

  • Acute illness

If you become unwell with another illness, particularly bad diarrhoea and vomiting or a severe infection, your kidney function may get worse. You should consult a doctor/nurse if you do not feel better within a few days

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