The urinary system is made up of organs that have the function of producing urine and storing it until it can be excreted into the environment. Both kidneys are classified as secretory organs, since they have the function of removing impurities from the blood and forming the urine to eliminate them. In addition, there are excretory bodies, responsible for their transport and storage.
Any problem in these structures can impair the activities of the kidneys. If the aggression persists, the person may progress to kidney failure, that is, total loss of kidney function . In this post, we will discuss what is chronic renal failure, its main causes, how diagnosis and treatment is made, among other important information. Check out!
What is chronic kidney failure?
Kidney failure is the progressive loss of kidney function, which usually happens slowly. These organs are responsible for filtering the blood, removing excess toxins and substances, such as water and electrolytes, from the body so that health is maintained in balance.
For various reasons, the kidneys can be damaged and, therefore, their activity decreases. When it becomes dangerously low, it is said that the person has entered renal failure, considering that the work of these organs is no longer capable of meeting the needs of the human body in an ideal way.
Renal failure can be classified according to the glomerular filtration rate. This test measures the amount of mL filtered per minute and determines the degree of insufficiency.
Mild renal failure
This is the initial stage of loss of kidney function. There are no important symptoms or signs and the patient maintains normal levels of creatine and urea (used to assess kidney function). In this case, the glomerular filtration rate is between 60 and 89 mL / min.
Moderate renal failure
As the disease progresses, the patient moves from mild to moderate. Thus, some mild symptoms appear, although the person remains clinically healthy. There are usually signs, such as high levels of urea and creatinine. The glomerular filtration rate for this phase is 30 to 59 mL / min.
Severe renal failure
In this phase of the disease, the patient presents intense symptoms of the disease, which impairs his quality of life. The range corresponds to 15 to 29 mL / min.
Chronic kidney failure
At this point, the kidneys are no longer able to regulate their own functions. The lack of work is incompatible with life, as the glomerular rate is very low, being less than 15 mL / min. In such cases, it is essential that the patient undergo dialysis while waiting for a kidney transplant.
What are the causes of this problem?
One of the main causes of chronic kidney failure is uncontrolled diabetes. This disease is characterized by high levels of glucose in the blood, which is extremely toxic to several organs, including the kidneys. In general, diabetes damages the vessels that irrigate the kidneys slowly and gradually.
With this change, the filtration capacity of the blood gradually decreases. In the course of the disease it becomes increasingly difficult to eliminate excess water and salt from the body. In this case, the disease is called diabetic nephropathy.
Popularly known as high blood pressure, high blood pressure is another disease that commonly causes kidney failure. Blood pressure is the force exerted on the vessels when the heart pumps blood, being stronger in the arteries and less present in the veins.
The problem is that when this pressure is very high, it can damage the vessels in the whole body, including those of the kidneys, which are very sensitive. Thus, there is also impairment of renal activity and increasingly less blood is filtered.
Inflammation and infections
Some inflammations, whether of autoimmune origin or due to the action of pathogens, can cause problems in the structure of the kidneys. This is the case of nephritis, glomerulonephritis, kidney infection and autoimmune diseases, such as lupus.
Among other causes are the overuse of some medications and toxic substances and anatomical problems that cause urine reflux, for example.
How is the diagnosis made?
As mentioned, chronic kidney disease slowly gets worse. Thus, in the early stages, symptoms may not be noticed, even if the loss of renal function is already occurring. In some cases, the perception of the clinical picture takes so long that the patient only discovers the disease when he has only one fifth of his kidney function.
Initial symptoms include:
- lack of appetite.
As the condition progresses, it is common for the patient to notice:
- abnormal colored skin;
- changes in the amount of urine;
- difficulty concentrating and thinking;
- muscle cramps;
- shortness of breath;
- excessive thirst;
- difficulty sleeping;
- bad breath;
- numbness, especially in the hands and feet.
When the patient arrives at the office with a picture similar to that mentioned, it is natural that tests are requested to investigate kidney function. However, most diagnoses occur at random, for example, in routine consultations with diabetic and hypertensive patients. After all, kidney problems are common in this group.
For this, the doctor requests the levels of creatinine, urea, nitrogen, albumin, glucose and other electrolytes. In addition, a complete urine test is usually requested. Finally, according to the causes of the disease, it is possible that the patient will undergo a computed tomography or an ultrasound, for example.
Is there an effective treatment for this disease?
First, it is necessary to discover the underlying disease, that is, which is causing kidney failure. In the case of diabetes, it is essential to control it, which can be done with diet and oral medications to lower blood glucose or insulin. The same goes for hypertension and, in this case, drugs that lower blood pressure are used.
The patient with kidney failure will also need a special diet, as well as other medications to treat the symptoms. If there is edema (swelling), for example, a remedy will be used for this purpose. It is important to give up smoking , alcohol and other drugs.
Unfortunately, the injured parts of the kidney never return to normal functioning. Therefore, if the function is already very compromised, the patient will need to undergo dialysis or a kidney transplant. Dialysis is done by a machine that has kidney function about 3 to 7 times a week.
As seen, chronic renal failure is a very serious condition that compromises the patient’s quality of life. To avoid it, it is essential to make periodic routine consultations. After all, in them the doctor can detect any problem and intervene early, preventing the kidneys from losing all their ability to filter the blood.