What Is Chronic Kidney Disease?

Have you or someone you care about been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease? Your doctors at Iowa Kidney Physicians in Des Moines, IA, can help you manage your health and reduce your risk of complications.

Chronic kidney disease affects the function of your kidneys

Your kidneys are responsible for removing waste products from your kidneys and filtering out excess fluids. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) happens when your kidneys don't work quite as well as they once did. Since the disease can happen gradually, you may not notice any changes in your health at first.

Common CKD risk factors

Two-thirds of CKD cases are caused by diabetes and high blood pressure, according to The National Kidney Foundation (NKF). Other risk factors include:

  • A family history of the disease or kidney failure
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • High blood pressure
  • Multiple urinary tract infections
  • A malformed kidney
  • Kidney stones
  • Tumors
  • Being older than 65

Hispanic Americans, African Americans, American Indians, Asians and Pacific Islanders have a higher risk of the disease, according to the NKF.

CKD signs and symptoms

CKD can cause these signs and symptoms:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Itchy, dry skin
  • Lack of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Back pain
  • Decrease in energy
  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Puffy eyes
  • Swelling in your feet and ankles

These symptoms usually don't appear until the disease is more advanced. Fortunately, regular checkups and blood and urine tests can help your doctor diagnose kidney disease in its earliest stages.

Treating CKD

Although the damage caused by CKD is usually permanent, your Des Moines, IA, kidney doctor can help you manage your symptoms, prevent complications and slow the progression of the disease.

Switching to a low-fat, low-salt diet, exercising more, and keeping your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar under control can be helpful. It's also important to maintain a healthy weight and avoid smoking or heavy drinking.

When swelling is an issue, your doctor may prescribe medication that helps your body remove excess fluids. If you have end-stage kidney disease, you may need regular dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant.

Regular visits to your Des Moines, IA, kidney doctor are particularly important if you have chronic kidney disease. Call (515) 336-6557 or (515) 243-3161 to schedule an appointment with the doctors at Iowa Kidney Physicians.