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Chronic kidney disease – causes, side effects and treatments at

Thursday, February 15, 2018 by

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) happens when the kidneys are damaged and can’t filter blood. It is a “chronic” disease because the kidneys are damaged slowly over an extended period. The damage may create a waste build-up in the body, and CKD can also lead to other health problems.

CKD may worsen over time and cause kidney failure. If the kidneys fail, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant to manage your condition.

Known side effects of chronic kidney disease

Not all individuals with CKD may experience the symptoms of the disease. The best way to determine if you have kidney disease is to get blood and urine tests.

When CKD worsens, it can cause edema — a swelling a person experiences when the kidneys are unable to get rid of the extra fluid and salt in the body. Edema may occur in the legs, feet, or ankles, and sometimes in the hands or face.

Side effects of advanced CKD include:

  • Chest pain
  • Dry skin
  • Itching or numbness
  • Feeling tired
  • Headaches
  • Increased/decreased urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sleep problems
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Individuals may be at risk for kidney disease if they have the following factors:

  • Age – Your chances of having kidney disease increases as you age.
  • Diabetes – This is the leading cause of CKD.
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of kidney failure

Body systems harmed by chronic kidney disease

If CKD progresses to kidney failure, the following complications may occur:

  • Anemia
  • Central nervous system damage
  • Dry skin/skin color changes
  • Fluid retention
  • Hyperkalemia (Occurs when blood potassium levels rise, may cause heart damage)
  • Insomnia
  • Lower sex drive
  • Male erectile dysfunction
  • Osteomalacia (when bones become weak and break easily)
  • Pericarditis (when the sac-like membrane around the heart becomes inflamed)
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Weak immune system

Food items or nutrients that may prevent chronic kidney disease

The following foods and nutrients may help prevent CKD:

  • Apples – Full of fiber and anti-inflammatory compounds.
  • Blueberries – High in antioxidants and manganese, which promotes bone health.
  • Cherries – Contain anti-inflammatory compounds.
  • Egg whites – Pure protein with all the essential amino acids. An excellent source of protein with less phosphorus.
  • Fish – Provides high-quality protein and contains anti-inflammatory fats called omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Garlic – Reduces inflammation and can lower cholesterol.
  • Red bell peppers – Low in potassium and full of vitamins C, A, B6 and folic acid and fiber.

Treatments, management plans for chronic kidney disease

There is no known cure for chronic kidney disease, but there are some therapies that can help control the disease.

Patients with CKD often need to take a large number of medications, and treatments include:

  • Anemia treatment – Some CKD patients with anemia will need blood transfusions. Someone with the disease will also need some iron supplements.
  • Anti-sickness medications – A build-up of toxins in the body can cause nausea. Medications (e.g., cyclizine or metoclopramide) can help relieve sickness.
  • High blood pressure – CKD patients often have high blood pressure, and this condition must be managed to protect the kidneys and halt the progression of the disease.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – Avoid NSAIDs (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen) and only take them upon the recommendation of a healthcare professional.
  • Phosphate balance – If you have CKD, you might have trouble eliminating phosphate from your body. Patients will have to reduce their nutritional phosphate intake by reducing their consumption of dairy products, red meat, eggs, and fish.
  • Skin itching – Antihistamines (e.g., chlorphenamine) can help alleviate symptoms of itching.

End-stage treatment is an option when the kidneys are functioning at less than 10 to 15 percent of normal capacity. This means that the kidneys are no longer able to keep up with the waste and fluid elimination process on their own. The patient requires dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive.

Healthcare professionals try to delay dialysis or a kidney transplant since these procedures carry the risk of potentially serious complications.

Kidney dialysis refers to “the removal of waste products and excessive fluids from blood when the kidneys cannot do the job properly anymore.” Dialysis has some serious risks, including infection.

There are two main types of kidney dialysis. Each type also has subtypes. The two main types are:

  • Hemodialysis – Blood is pumped out of the patient’s body and through a dialyzer (an artificial kidney).
  • Peritoneal dialysis – Blood is filtered in the patient’s own abdomen in the peritoneal cavity, which contains a vast network of tiny blood vessels. A catheter is implanted into the abdomen, and a dialysis solution is infused and drained out to remove waste and excess fluid.

A kidney transplant is a better option than dialysis, especially for individuals without conditions apart from kidney failure. Candidates for a kidney transplant need to undergo dialysis until they receive a new kidney.

The kidney donor and recipient must have “the same blood type, cell-surface proteins, and antibodies” to minimize the risk of rejection of the new kidney. Siblings or very close relatives are often the best types of donors. If a living donor is not possible, a cadaver donor (dead person) is another option.

Where to learn more


Chronic kidney disease (CKD) happens when the kidneys are damaged and can’t filter blood the way they should. It is a “chronic” disease because your kidneys are damaged slowly over a long period.

Not all individuals with CKD may experience the symptoms of the disease. The best way to determine if you have kidney disease is to get blood and urine tests.

These foods may help prevent CKD: apples, blueberries, cherries, and cabbages.

End-stage treatment for CKD includes dialysis and kidney transplant.

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