Symptoms of CKD
There are usually no symptoms of kidney disease in the early stages. It may only be diagnosed if you have a blood or urine test for another reason and the results show a possible problem with your kidneys.
At a more advanced stage, symptoms can include:
• swollen ankles, feet or hands
• shortness of breath
• feeling sick
• blood in your pee (urine)
Call us or consult your Doctor if you have persistent or worrying symptoms that you think could be caused by kidney disease.
Causes of CKD
Chronic kidney disease is usually caused by other conditions that put a strain on the kidneys. Often it's the result of a combination of different problems.
CKD can be caused by:
• high blood pressure – over time, this can put strain on the small blood vessels in the kidneys and stop the kidneys working properly
• diabetes – too much glucose in your blood can damage the tiny filters in the kidneys
• high cholesterol – this can cause a build-up of fatty deposits in the blood vessels supplying your kidneys, which can make it harder for them to work properly
• glomerulonephritis – kidney inflammation
• polycystic kidney disease – an inherited condition where growths called cysts develop in the kidneys
• blockages in the flow of urine – for example, from kidney stones that keep coming back, or an enlarged prostate
• long-term, regular use of certain medicines – such as lithium and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
You can help prevent CKD by making healthy lifestyle changes and ensuring any underlying conditions you have are well controlled.
Tests for CKD
CKD can be diagnosed using blood and urine tests. These tests look for high levels of certain substances in your blood and urine that are signs your kidneys aren't working properly.
If you're at a high risk of developing kidney disease (for example, you have a known risk factor such as high blood pressure or diabetes), you may be advised to have regular tests to check for CKD so it's found at an early stage.
The results of your blood and urine tests can be used to tell the stage of your kidney disease. This is a number that reflects how severe the damage to your kidneys is, with a higher number indicating more serious CKD.
Call us or consult your Doctor if you want to know more about how CKD is diagnosed.
Treatments for CKD
There's no cure for CKD, but treatment can help relieve the symptoms and stop it getting worse.
Your treatment will depend on how severe your condition is.
The main treatments are:
• lifestyle changes to help you remain as healthy as possible
• medicine to control associated problems such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol
• dialysis – treatment to replicate some of the kidney's functions; this may be necessary in advanced CKD
• kidney transplant – this may also be necessary in advanced CKD
You'll also be advised to have regular check-ups to monitor your condition.
Call us or consult your Doctor if you want to know more about how CKD is treated and living with CKD.
Outlook for CKD
CKD can range from a mild condition with no or few symptoms, to a very serious condition where the kidneys stop working, sometimes called kidney failure.
Most people with CKD will be able to control their condition with medicine and regular check-ups. CKD only progresses to kidney failure in around 1 in 50 people with the condition.
If you have CKD, even if it's mild, you're at an increased risk of developing other serious problems, such as cardiovascular disease. This is a group of conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels, which includes heart attack and stroke.
Cardiovascular disease is one of the main causes of death in people with kidney disease, although healthy lifestyle changes and medicine can help reduce your risk of developing it.
Living with-Chronic kidney disease
Many people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are able to live long lives without being unduly affected by the condition..
Although it's not possible to repair damage that has already happened to your kidneys, CKD will not necessarily get worse..
CKD only reaches an advanced stage in a small proportion of people..
But even if your condition is mild, it's important to take good care of yourself to help stop it getting worse and reduce your risk of other health problems, such as cardiovascular disease.
Looking after yourself.
Take your medicine
It's very important that you take any prescribed medicine, even if you do not feel unwell. Some medicines are designed to prevent serious problems from happending in the future.
It's also useful to read the information leaflet that comes with the medicine about possible interactions with other medicines or supplements.
Check with your care team if you plan to take any painkillers or nutritional supplements. These can sometimes affect your kidneys or interfere with your medicine.
Call us or consult your Doctor if you want to know moreabout pharmacy remedies and kidney disease.
Also speak to your care team if you have any concerns about the medicine you are taking, or if you're experiencing any side effects.
Have a healthy diet
A healthy, balanced diet can help improve your general health and reduce your risk of developing further problems.
A balanced diet should include:
• plenty of fruit and vegetables – aim for at least 5 portions a day
• meals that include starchy foods, such as potatoes, wholegrain bread, rice or pasta
• some dairy or dairy alternatives
• some beans or pulses, fish, eggs, or meat as a source of protein
• low levels of saturated fat, salt and sugar
You may also be given advice about dietary changes that can specifically help with kidney disease, such as limiting the amount of potassium or phosphate in your diet.
Regular physical activity can also help improve your general health.
Do not be scared to exercise. Exercise is good for anyone with kidney disease, however severe.
Not only will it boost your energy, help you sleep, strengthen your bones, ward off depression and keep you fit, it may also reduce your risk of problems such as heart disease.
If you have mild to moderate CKD, your ability to exercise should not be reduced. You should be able to exercise as often and as vigorously as someone the same age as you with healthy kidneys.
If your condition is more advanced or you're already on dialysis, your ability to exercise is likely to be reduced and you may become breathless and tired more quickly.
But exercise is still beneficial. Start slowly and build up gradually. Check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise programme.
Want to know more
• Kidney Care UK: diet, fluids and exercise
If you smoke, stopping smoking can improve your overall health and reduce your risk of many other health problems.
Call us or consult your Doctor if you want to know more. Wecan provide support and, if necessary, prescribe stop smoking treatments.
Limit your alcohol consumption
You may still be able to drink alcohol if you have kidney disease, but it's advisable not to exceed the recommended limits of more than 14 alcohol units a week.
Speak to your GP or care team if you find it difficult to cut down the amount of alcohol you drink.
Call us or consult your Doctor if you want to know moreabout cutting down on alcohol.
Kidney disease can put a significant strain on your body and make you more vulnerable to infections.
Everyone with the condition is encouraged to have the annual flu jab and the one-off pneumococcal vaccination.
Call us or consult your Doctor if you want to know moreregarding vaccination service.
Regular reviews and monitoring
You'll have regular contact with your care team to monitor your condition.
These appointments may involve:
• talking about your symptoms – such as whether they're affecting your normal activities or are getting worse
• a discussion about your medicine – including whether you are experiencing any side effects
• tests to monitor your kidney function and general health
It's also a good opportunity to ask any questions you have or raise any other issues you'd like to discuss with your care team.
You may also want to help monitor your condition at home – for example, by using a home blood pressure monitor.
Call us or consult your Doctor if you want to know moreif your symptoms are getting worse or you develop new symptoms.
Relationships and support
Coming to terms with a condition such as CKD can put a strain on you, your family and your friends. It can be difficult to talk to people about your condition, even if they're close to you.
Learning about CKD may help you and your family understand what to expect and to feel more in control of the illness, instead of feeling that your lives are now dominated by CKD and its treatment.
Be open about how you feel, and let your family and friends know what they can do to help. However, do not feel shy about telling them that you need some time to yourself, if that is what you need.
Your GP or healthcare team can reassure you if you have questions about your CKD, or you may find it helpful to talk to a trained counsellor, psychologist or specialist telephone helpline operator. Your GP surgery will have information on these.
Some people find it helpful to talk to other people with CKD at a local support group or through an internet chat room.
Sex and pregnancy
Having CKD can affect a sexual relationship. Some couples become closer after a diagnosis of CKD, while others find their loved ones are affected by worries about how they'll cope with the illness.
Both men and women may have issues about body image and self-esteem, and this can affect a relationship.
Problems such as erectile dysfunction and reduced sex drive are also fairly common in people with CKD.
Try to share your feelings with your partner. If you have problems with sex that do not get better with time, speak to your care team. Treatment and support is available.
If you have mild to moderate kidney disease, it's unlikely your condition or its treatment will affect your chances of having children.
More advanced kidney disease may affect a woman's periods and reduce a man's sperm count, which can make it more difficult to get pregnant, although this does not mean you will not be able to have a child.
It's important to use contraception if you do not want to get pregnant.
If you do want to try for a baby, it's a good idea to speak to your healthcare team for advice first. There may be risks to mother and baby, and changes to your treatment or check-ups may be necessary.
Working with CKD
Can I continue working?
If you're well enough, you can keep working for as long as you feel able.
Talk to your employer as soon as you feel your condition is affecting your ability to do your job so you can find a solution that suits both of you. For example, it may be possible for you to work part-time.
This might, where possible, include changing or modifying tasks, altering work patterns, installing special equipment, allowing time off to attend appointments, or helping with travel to work.
Symptoms-Chronic kidney disease
Many people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) will not have symptoms because it does not usually cause problems until it reaches an advanced stage.
Early stages of CKD
Kidney disease does not tend to cause symptoms when it's at an early stage.
This is because the body is usually able to cope with a significant reduction in kidney function.
Kidney disease is often only diagnosed at this stage if a routine test for another condition, such as a blood or urine test, detects a possible problem.
If it's found at an early stage, medicine and regular tests to monitor it may help stop it becoming more advanced.
Later stages of CKD
A number of symptoms can develop if kidney disease is not found early or it gets worse despite treatment.
Symptoms can include:
• weight loss and poor appetite
• swollen ankles, feet or hands – as a result of water retention (oedema)
• shortness of breath
• blood in your pee (urine)
• an increased need to pee – particularly at night
• difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
• itchy skin
• muscle cramps
• feeling sick
• erectile dysfunction in men
This stage of CKD is known as kidney failure, end-stage renal disease or established renal failure. It may eventually require treatment with dialysis or a kidney transplant.
When to get medical advice
See your GP if you have persistent or worrying symptoms that you think could be caused by kidney disease.
The symptoms of kidney disease can be caused by many less serious conditions, so it's important to get a proper diagnosis.
If you do have CKD, it's best to get it diagnosed as soon as possible. Kidney disease can be diagnosed by having blood and urine tests.
Call us or consult your Doctor if you want to know moreabout how CKD is diagnosed.