Chronic Kidney Disease: Symptoms, Risk Factors, And What It's Like To Live With It


Chronic Kidney Disease: Symptoms, Risk Factors, And What It's Like To Live With It

Chronic kidney disease is surprisingly common. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), more than 30 million U.S. adults may have chronic kidney disease (CKD). Why "may" have? Because many people living with CKD don’t even know they have it.

Symptoms of chronic kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease is insidious. Your kidneys can still be good at doing their job even when they are already damaged, and you may have no symptoms in the early stages of the disease.

The kidneys’ main functions include removing waste and excess water from the blood and making urine. The organ also plays a role in regulating blood pressure and making red blood cells. When the kidneys lose too much of their ability to function, the following symptoms start to appear:

  • leg, ankle, and foot swelling due to water retention;
  • increased or decreased urination;
  • decreased appetite;
  • nausea and vomiting;
  • persistent weakness and tiredness;
  • muscle cramps, especially in the legs;
  • high blood pressure;
  • breathlessness;
  • brain fog;
  • itchy skin.

In many cases, people who have CKD without symptoms find out about their condition when a routine blood or urine test shows something is off.

Who is more likely to develop kidney disease?

Some people are more likely to develop chronic kidney disease than others. You are at a higher risk if you have one or more of the following:

  • high blood pressure;
  • type 1 or type 2 diabetes;
  • cardiovascular disease;
  • too much excess weight;
  • a family history of kidney disease.

If you get diagnosed with kidney disease, you’ll have to make changes in your way of life. These changes include eating a kidney-friendly diet, giving up harmful habits, and changing your activity level. Your treatment will depend on the stage of the disease.

What is it like to live with kidney disease?

In the comments to our previous articles about kidney disease, our readers shared their experience with the condition:

If you are living with kidney disease, follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding treatment and lifestyle. If you want to learn more about the disease, get the information from trusted sources, such as the NIDDK.

This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.

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