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April 15, 2014

Chronic kidney disease: When the kidneys fail

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the slow, progressive decline of kidney function. It often results from a complication of another disease. In its advanced stage, CKD must be treated with dialysis or transplantation to ensure the elimination of waste products from the blood.

Chronic kidney disease: When the kidneys fail

Kidney functions

The kidneys’ functions are to:

  • Filter blood
  • Produce urine in order to remove waste products from the body
  • Regulate the levels of water and various minerals in the body
  • Generate red blood cells
  • Produce hormones.

Causes

Kidney disease is characterized by a decline in kidney functions. It can be caused by:

  • Family history
  • Diabetes 
  • High blood pressure 
  • A kidney infection (pyelonephritis)
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Urinary tract obstruction
  • Reflux nephropathy
  • Drug use
  • Certain medications.

Symptoms

The first symptoms of CKD may take years to become noticeable. Disease progression is divided into five stages, each with its own symptoms.

 

% of kidney function activity

Symptoms

Stage 1

90%

None

Stage 2

60 to 90%

None

Stage 3

30 to 60%

Tiredness, loss of appetite or weight, itching, cloudy or bloody urine and difficulty passing urine

Stage 4

15 to 29%

Worsening of stage 3 symptoms

Stage 5
(End stage)

Less than 15%, not enough to keep the person alive without treatment

Difficulty sleeping and breathing, itching and vomiting.

Although there is no cure for chronic kidney disease, it is important to note that not everyone will progress to the terminal stage of the disease.

Treatment

Since kidney disease can develop for some time without noticeable symptoms, prevention must begin well before the first signs of the disease. That is why people who are at risk should be closely monitored by their doctor.

Prevention

There are ways to prevent or minimize the progression of CKD and these normally help the people affected maintain a good quality of life. To achieve this, patients must:

Sometimes, the disease is too far advanced or the treatments fail to slow its progression. Dialysis or kidney transplantation then becomes necessary.

Dialysis

Dialysis is a type of treatment used to clean the blood and remove waste products and water from the body.

  • In peritoneal dialysis,the natural membrane in the abdominal cavity, called the peritoneum, cleans the blood, once or several times per day. Waste is removed through a catheter in the abdomen.
  • Hemodialysis, for its part, must be done in a hospital, since it involves a machine, which cleans the blood, before returning it to the body. This treatment takes approximately four hours and must be repeated an average of three times per week.   

Transplantation

It involves the transplantation of a healthy kidney from a donor. Only one organ is required, since a single healthy kidney can do the work of two. If this treatment is successful, patients are able to resume a normal life. However, kidney transplants are not suitable for everyone.

In-store health services

If you have questions about chronic kidney disease and its treatment, talk to your pharmacist. He’s there to help! 

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The uniprix.com Website deals with health-related topics. The information presented has been validated by experts and is accurate at the time of posting. In no way does it replace the opinion of a health care professional. Uniprix Inc. and its affiliated pharmacists accept no liability whatsoever in connection with the information provided on this Website.