Chronic Kidney Disease

by Dr. Vijay Kher & Dr. Sanjeev Gulati

Q. What is the function of normal kidneys?

  • There are two kidneys in our body and their functions are
  • Removal of toxic waste products, excess water and electrolytes from the body
  • Maintains the body’s ‘internal environment’ by keeping in balance various salts such as sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphate as well as acid & base substances
  • Secretes several hormones like
  • Renin – important for blood pressure
  • Erythropoietin – important for hemoglobin & red cell mass
  • Activated vitamin D – important for strength of bones
Q. What is kidney failure?
  • Kidney failure is a condition where the kidneys are incapable of performing its normal functions. Kidney failure is the last stage of chronic kidney disease where the kidney function is less than 15 %. Certain toxic substances that should have been excreted such as urea and creatinine are accumulated in the body. Their levels if high enough cause symptoms such as tiredness, weakness, loss of appetite and vomiting.
  • As kidney failure worsens, the patient may experience the following:
  • Pale and sallow complexion
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Itching
  • Poor appetite, sometimes accompanied with nausea and vomiting
  • Swelling of the face and legs
  • Frequent urination at night
  • Low urine output
  • High blood pressure
  • Anemia
  • Body aches especially bony aches
Q. What is the treatment of kidney failure?
  • In treating advanced kidney failure, the long-term goal remains the full or nearly complete restoration of a patient’s health, allowing a normal, everyday social and work life. The various options available are :
  • Kidney transplantation
  • Dialysis
  • Kidney transplantation offers the most comprehensive form of kidney function replacement.
Q. Is kidney failure permanent?
  • Not always. Some kinds of acute kidney failure get better after treatment. In some cases of acute kidney failure, dialysis may be needed for a short time until the kidneys get better.
  • In chronic or end stage kidney failure, kidneys do not recover lost function and one will need dialysis for the rest of one’s life.