Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a general term for the failure of the kidneys to filter blood properly. It is a common disease in developed countries – the risk factors for CKD include age, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and kidney failure. CKD is particularly problematic given the important role of the kidneys in maintaining homeostasis. The kidneys filter out toxins from the blood and also filter out excess hormones and nutrients (i.e. calcium). Left untreated, CKD can lead to renal failure which is extremely lethal unless a kidney transplant can be performed.
Chronic Kidney Disease treatment is a field of important study currently as there is no cure for CKD. Currently CKD can only be slowed down in its progress. Below we will discuss some of these treatments that help dampen the impacts of CKD.
First and foremost it is essential to understand that CKD progresses through five different stages – from mild damage to complete renal failure. Early vs. late stage CKD necessitates varying degrees of intervention. Often CKD is triggered by poor dietary choices that result in obesity. Beyond the stresses on the kidneys caused by obesity itself, a poor diet also causes hypertension and diabetes. The former increases the pressure in the blood vessels of the kidneys – vessels that are the center of regulating blood pressure. The later results in the kidneys dealing with increased filtering responsibilities as the body fails to regulate blood sugar properly. To combat CKD in its early stages and whose origin is dietary in nature it is recommended that the patient pay special attention to maintaining a good diet, exercising 30 minutes a day, avoiding salt and sugar, avoiding substances (alcohol, tobacco, etc.), and losing weight.
In its later stages, CKD is far more problematic to tackle. Medicament prescribed to tackle factors exacerbating CKD may be utilized – such as hypertension meds. But at times even this is not enough, especially as CKD progresses closer and closer to full blown renal failure. At this point dialysis may be necessary. Dialysis is a fairly invasive treatment wherein the patient is essentially connected to artificial kidneys at a medical center to relieve pressure from the patient’s own kidneys. Beyond reducing stress on the kidneys it may be that the patient’s kidneys are so damaged that they are rendered unable to filter at a rate which can maintain homeostasis appropriately. Dialysis is therefore quite literally a life saving treatment.
As one may assume, dialysis is quite invasive and nothing close to being a permanent solution. In fact, dialysis can only go so far and is a sign that renal failure is not far ahead. This necessitates the ultimate treatment for CKD – a kidney transplant. Upon the failure of one’s kidneys it is necessary to receive a kidney transplant given the essential role of the kidneys in the body. One could say that this is a “cure” for CKD because it supplies the patient with a new kidney. But the list of patients requiring kidneys is quite long and the procedure is quite extreme with risks such as organ rejection. Research continues towards finding novel ways to treat and prevent CKD – and perhaps one day there will be an actual cure, one that does not require a procedure as invasive as a transplant.