How well do you know this silent disease? Nicknamed for its stealth, chronic kidney disease has no signs or symptoms and therefore often goes undetected.
In the first three stages, as little as 10 percent of those affected by chronic kidney disease even know they have it. Blood and urine tests are the only way to detect the disease. And once contracted, kidney disease has no cure, and its symptoms must be monitored and can be treated accordingly.
So how can you escape the quiet grip of this life-threatening disease? The first step is knowing your health history. Look out for these factors and common causes to find out if you’re at an increased risk.
Know Your Health Slate
It’s important to note that while chronic kidney disease impacts all ethnicities, African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans have a higher risk of contracting CKD because they have an increased risk of diabetes and other conditions that contribute to the disease.
An array of other health problems can cause kidney disease: genetic disorders like polycystic kidney disease (PKD), autoimmune diseases like lupus, and rare genetic conditions such as Alport syndrome. But kidney disease can also be caused by accidents, such as infection, lead poisoning, and use of certain drugs that are toxic to the kidneys. That’s why it’s important to know your health history and visit your primary care physician regularly.
Keep the Pressure Off
You may know high blood pressure can cause all types of problems. But did you know that high blood pressure can seriously damage your kidneys’ blood vessels and thereby prevent them from filtering your blood effectively? Extra fluid in your blood vessels could raise your blood pressure even further, creating a dangerous cycle of damage.
Tame Your Sweet Tooth
Having a sweet tooth is understandable, but excess sugar is not a friend to your kidneys. When blood sugar levels become too high, over time your kidneys can lose their ability to provide their vital function of filtering wastes and fluids from your blood.
If your kidneys work properly, they will retain a protein called albumin, which your body needs to stay healthy. Your doctor may test your urine for albumin to see if your kidneys aren’t working properly.
If you have an increased risk of kidney disease, make an appointment with your primary care physician at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group and learn how you can keep your kidneys healthy. The multidisciplinary care offered at St. Luke’s Health ensures our patients have access to a full spectrum of experts as well as the state-of-the-art resources available through our award-winning kidney transplant program.
NIH NIDDK | What Is Chronic Kidney Disease?
NIH Medline Plus | Chronic Kidney Disease