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Chronic Kidney Disease is a defined as a progressive loss of renal function within months to years. It is differentiated from acute kidney disease which develops within hours, days or weeks. Additionally, compared to chronic kidney disease, acute kidney disease generally resolves when the triggering effects or stimuli are withdrawn.
In the majority of times, it develops as sequelae from a previous chronic disease. In that sense, chronic kidney disease is just a complication of another disease. Dealing with chronic kidney disease requires lifestyle and diet modification to decrease the workload of the kidneys, as well as other medical procedures to carry out the function of the newly incompetent kidneys.
Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease
Although chronic kidney disease can stem from different causes, the most common are Diabetic nephropathy and Hypertensive nephropathy. These are complications of diabetes and hypertension which affect the renal system.
Diabetes and Hypertension are two of the most prevalent chronic diseases worldwide, affecting all races and all ethnic groups. When left uncontrolled or poorly controlled, they can evolve into a myriad of complications ranging from microvascular to macro-vascular sequelae. Chronic kidney disease is a result of microvascular damage and glomerular damage secondary to those conditions.
In addition to those two main conditions, other disease can also be held accountable for chronic kidney injury. This include glomerulonephritis (all forms), polycystic kidney disease (genetic transmission), chronic kidney stones, or even parasitic infections.
Classification of Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease is classified based on a physiological parameter known as the Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR). The GFR simply indicates the rate at which the glomerulus (filtrating unit of the kidneys) filters blood per minute. Normally, the GFR is comprised between 90 – 120.
There are 5 identified stages of Chronic Kidney Disease, which indicate the progressive loss of kidney function. At stages 1, kidney function is still intact (GF =90+), and is minimally reduced at Stage 2 (GFR = 60-89). Stage 3 of Chronic Kidney Disease is marked by a moderate decrease in the GFR which can go as low as 30. At this stage, elevated blood pressure and anemia can result. Stage 4 is characterized by a GFR between 16-29, which indicates severely decreased kidney function. At the last stage of Chronic Kidney Disease (GFR <15), there is a severe loss of kidney function, and the best option to correct this is kidney transplant. But while waiting for a kidney transplant, the patient must be put on dialysis to survive.
Stage 5 Kidney Disease
Dialysis becomes the option of choice when you reach Stage 5 of chronic kidney disease. At that stage, the kidney function becomes severely decreased, less or equal to 15% of their normal function.
Because the kidneys are unable to perform their function, there is increased water and sodium retention in the blood, leading to significantly worsening hypertension. Furthermore, edema develops as water shifts into the tissues.