About 37 million Americans have kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation. That’s about 15% of the adult population in the United States. Unfortunately, many people who have kidney disease don’t know they have it, so they’re not getting the treatment they need.
Knowing the symptoms of kidney disease is important, so you can get medical care as early as possible. The good news is there are more treatments than ever to help people manage the disease and improve their health and quality of life.
The team at Houston Kidney Specialists Center provides state-of-the-art treatments to patients who suffer from kidney disease. Here’s what you should know about this disease’s symptoms and the treatment options we offer at our four locations in Houston and Cypress, Texas.
Causes and symptoms of kidney disease
Your kidneys act as filters for your blood, removing wastes and toxins so they can be eliminated through your urine. With kidney disease, the organs become damaged, which means they’re not able to filter your blood like they normally do. As a result, wastes and toxins can “back up” in your bloodstream.
There are two main types of kidney disease: acute, which develops rapidly, and chronic, which develops more slowly and can continue for years.
Acute kidney disease — which is also called acute kidney injury or AKI — typically can be reversed. It’s often related to an underlying treatable medical problem or a medication you’re taking. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) develops over time as the result of an underlying problem, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
In its early stages, chronic kidney disease usually doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms. But as it progresses, it can cause a variety of symptoms, such as the following:
- Blood in your urine or decreased urine production
- High blood pressure
- Heart rhythm problems
- Loss of appetite
- Unintentional weight loss
- Itchy skin
- Sleep problems
- Swelling in your feet and ankles
- Muscle cramps
- Chest pains
Seeing a doctor early is the best way to limit damage to your kidneys.
Treating kidney disease
Treating kidney disease begins with a thorough evaluation, including blood tests and other lab work to diagnose the cause and extent of the disease. In some cases, our team may take tiny tissue samples (biopsies) from your kidneys for microscopic evaluation.
Depending on your needs, your treatment plan may include:
Lowering dietary sodium and protein may help reduce the load on your kidneys so they don’t become strained and overworked. Our team can help you find a dietitian with experience in developing healthy eating plans for people with CKD.
There are a number of medicines that can be used to treat kidney disease and its symptoms. Diuretics can remove excess fluids that cause swelling in the feet and ankles, and blood pressure medicines and anti-inflammatories can relieve other symptoms associated with CKD. Many patients take more than one type of medicine to treat multiple symptoms.
Dialysis uses a special machine to filter your blood, taking over the “job” your kidneys once performed. Some types of dialysis use a catheter and a special solution to rid your body of waste. Dialysis is typically a long-term treatment option for people with severe CKD, including those who are waiting for the next option on this list — kidney transplant surgery.
Kidney transplant surgery removes your diseased kidney and replaces it with a healthy kidney from a living or deceased donor. While the new, healthy kidney can resume normal filtration for your blood, you’ll still need to take medicines to help prevent organ rejection.
Getting early treatment is the most important thing you can do to prevent kidney disease from becoming worse. In its early stages, CKD associated with high blood pressure or diabetes may be treated with medication and lifestyle changes to prevent the disease from progressing.
If you have CKD and want treatment, or if you want to see if you have kidney problems, we can give you the help you need. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Houston Kidney Specialists Center today.