Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease includes conditions that damage your kidneys and decrease their ability to keep you healthy by doing their jobs. If kidney disease gets worse or is left untreated, high levels of wastes can build up in your blood, causing you to feel sick. Complications like high blood pressure, anemia (low blood count), weak bones, and nerve damage may develop.
What causes CKD?
There are two main causes of chronic kidney disease: diabetes and high blood pressure. If you have diabetes and your blood sugar is too high, it causes damage to many organs in your body, including the kidneys and heart, as well as blood vessels, nerves and eyes. If high blood pressure (hypertension) is not treated, or poorly controlled, it can be a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes and chronic kidney disease. Also, chronic kidney disease can cause high blood pressure.
There are other conditions that affect the kidneys. These include a group of diseases that cause inflammation and damage to the kidney's filtering units called glomerulonephritis and polycystic kidney disease, which causes large cysts to form in the kidneys and damage the surrounding tissue.
The Function of Dialysis
When your own kidneys can no longer perform their jobs due to disease or damage, you may need to receive dialysis. Dialysis is a treatment that does some of the things done by healthy kidneys. Like healthy kidneys, dialysis keeps your body in balance. Dialysis removes waste, salt and extra water to prevent them from building up in the body; keeps a safe level of certain chemicals in your blood, such as potassium, sodium and bicarbonate; and helps to control blood pressure.
The Anemia & CKD Connection
Millions of Americans suffer from this serious disorder. Anemia occurs when your body does not produce enough red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to all your organs and tissues, providing energy for your daily activities.
Why does chronic kidney disease cause anemia?
Most people with chronic kidney disease develop anemia. This occurs because the diseased kidneys no longer make enough of a hormone called erythropoietin (ee-rith-row-po-eh-tin), also called EPO for short. This hormone tells your bone marrow to make more red blood cells. Anemia may occur even with moderate loss of kidney function. If you have chronic kidney disease, you should be checked for anemia. If anemia is found, you should be treated. Studies have shown that chronic kidney disease patients do better overall when anemia is treated.
How is anemia treated?
Your treatment will depend on the exact cause of your anemia. Patients who develop anemia due to their CKD are treated with medications to increase the production of red blood cells.
Will I need to take supplements?
If you have chronic kidney disease and you are receiving a medication to increase your red blood cell production, your doctor will check to make sure you have enough stores of iron in your body. Without enough iron in your body, the drug will not work effectively.
The Phosphorus & CKD Connection
Phosphorus is a mineral found in your bones. Along with calcium, phosphorus is needed for building healthy strong bones, as well as keeping other parts of your body healthy.
Normal working kidneys can remove extra phosphorus in your blood. When you have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) your kidneys cannot remove phosphorus very well. High phosphorus levels can cause damage to your body. Extra phosphorus causes body changes that pull calcium out of your bones, making them weak. High phosphorus and calcium levels also lead to dangerous calcium deposits in blood vessels, lungs, eyes, and heart. Phosphorus and calcium control is very important for your overall health.
In addition to recommending changes in your diet to help reduce your intake of phosphorus, your doctor may order a medicine called a phosphate binder for you to take with meals and snacks. This medicine will help control the amount of phosphorus your body absorbs from the foods you eat. There are many different kinds of phosphate binders. Pills, chewable tablets, and powders are available. Some types also contain calcium, while others do not. You should only take the phosphate binder that is ordered by your doctor or dietitian.
Source: National Kidney Foundation www.kidney.org
Revised: 11/03/09. Copyright © 2006 Clinical Research Associates of Tidewater. All rights reserved.