Symptoms, Causes & Risk Factors of Chronic Kidney Disease

Symptoms & Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease with Risk Factors

by Saima
Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease is an irretrievable and gradual progression in kidney infection. According to a recent study published in CDC, 1 out of 7 individuals or 15% of US adults suffers from chronic kidney disease. The disease is spreading worldwide at an alarming level.

Once kidneys start to destruct, it becomes almost impossible to regain their normal functionality without getting any quick medical attention. However, carefully controlling the root cause, progression of kidney infection can be delayed or treated effectively.

Role of Kidneys in body

Kidneys perform the following crucial life processes:

  • Removal of toxins from the body
  • Production of urine
  • Balancing electrolytes and fluid in the body
  • Production of RBCs and vitamin D
  • Retaining a well-controlled blood pressure and pH

Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

In a research study of 2020 published in The Lancet, the most general causes of CKD are diabetes and high blood pressure. However, this disease is a silent killer as mostly its progression occurs till the end stage without knowing any particular reason.

1-      Hypertension as Leading Cause of CKD

The most leading cause of CKD is hypertension or high blood pressure. Arteries of kidneys become narrow due to uncontrolled high blood pressure. So the arteries can no longer supply blood to each kidney tissue due to impaired glomerulus filtration rate. This insufficient blood supply to each kidney results in the progression towards CKD.

2-      Diabetes

According to research, one out of three diabetic patients develops chronic kidney disease. High sugar levels or diabetes causes the filtering units of kidneys to become clogged and interferes with blood supply. This may result in the progression towards kidney failure.

3-      Polycystic kidney disease and CKD

It is an inherited kidney disease that results in the formation of fluid-filled cysts in the kidneys. These cysts are non-cancerous fluid-filled, round sac-like structures that grow inside and replace many areas of kidney tissues. As a result, the size of the cysts becomes enlarged causing impaired functionality and kidney failure.

4-      Hydronephrosis

Swelling of one or both kidneys due to an obstruction in the urinary tract prevents urine to drain properly from the kidneys to the bladder. Hydronephrosis is not considered a primary disease but a secondary disease that may occur due to some other underlying reasons.

5-      Glomerulonephritis

Glomerulonephritis is one of the most leading causes of infection that accounts for about 10% of all dialysis patients. It is the inflammation of the glomerulus; the structure in kidneys composed of minute blood vessels. In this condition, glomeruli stop the kidneys to work properly and subsequently demand immediate treatment to stop or slow down CKD.

6-      Acidosis

As chronic kidney disease progresses, it eventually results in the accumulation of acidic fluids, ammonia, and bicarbonates in the body rather than to be extracted out via urine. This can lead to a pH imbalance that worsens the health of kidneys or ESKD if not treated timely.

7-      Recurring urinary tract infections (UTI)

UTI’s are caused by microbes particularly bacteria and fungus but sometimes viral infection can be seen. Mostly UTI occurs in the urethra and bladder; however, it may proceed towards ureters and kidneys if not treated timely. So we can say prolonged urinary tract infection may lead to the severity of kidney infection and chronic kidney disease.

8-      Overdose or misuse of medicines

Long-term usage of over-the-counter (OTC) or un-prescribed medicine and certain painkillers such as naproxen, aspirin, and ibuprofen may cause kidney damage. However, some more detrimental medications such as alcohol, addictive drugs, certain contrast dyes involved in MRIs & CT- Scans may prove to be lethal for kidney health.

Early Signs/ symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

            Progression in kidney damage may not always be associated with clear signs and symptoms because multiple essential functions of kidneys are still performed without any pause. So mostly, patients don’t notice the destruction until the end stage of kidney damage. The most common signs and symptoms include:

Changes in Urination

If you feel any noticeable change in appearance, color, quantity, and pattern of urination then it’s the right time to see a doctor. Your health care consultant may recommend you some tests to clarify whether it is CKD or other underlying causes.

Edema In Chronic Kidney Disease

Edema represents the swelling mostly in the lower half of the body such as feet, ankle, lower limbs, and face. When your body is flooded with fluid and wastes and doesn’t find any way to excrete outside due to malfunctioning of kidneys then edema is an obvious sign. Edema sometimes results in shortness of breath too.

Itchy skin

Due to the build-up of harmful wastes in blood, the skin of the patient faces rash, itchiness, and skin lesions.

Lack in Concentration

Kidney damage causes anemia that most often is severe enough to hinder the transmission of oxygen to brain tissues. Eventually, this causes memory loss and trouble concentrating.

Frequent headaches/Migraine

Frequently occurring migraine is one of the most relatable symptoms of CKD patients. The painkillers are given to the patients without knowing the root cause trigger the disease severity.

High blood pressure

Uncontrolled high blood pressure of more than 140/90mm Hg is something our body wants to tell you that something is going wrong inside the body. Get your B.P regularly checked and make a graph of your daily reading so that you may discuss it with your Nephrologist.

Blood & protein in the urine

Get examined your urine report to your doctor. Urine protein and blood spots are also the usual symptoms of CKD that indicate your kidneys are not working properly.


CKD is accompanied by anemic problems due to less production of erythropoietin and RBCs in the body.

Electrolytes imbalance in Chronic Kidney Disease

Imbalanced electrolytes in the body; low calcium and high potassium or phosphorus levels are the consequences of chronic kidney disease.

Kidney-Friendly Lifestyle Tips

Despite all the above-mentioned facts for CKD, following a natural lifestyle has always been the best option for maintaining as well as improving your kidney health. Some of these tips are shared here.

    • Make yourself busy and active. Plan a schedule to do exercise, yoga, or other physical activities on daily basis. A 15-20 minutes slow walk can improve your kidney’s health and cardiovascular fitness.
    • Maintain a healthy weight. Being obese would contribute to damaged kidney and other body organs functionality.
    • Maintain a healthy and fit cholesterol level to avoid any heart-related complications. Chronic Kidney disease is more often linked to heart-related issues.
    • Follow a kidney-friendly diet plan recommended by a good dietitian. When you feel any problem, you should limit your protein and potassium uptake urgently.
    • Examine your blood pressure daily and maintain it around 140/90 mm Hg as continuous high blood pressure can lead to chronic kidney disease.
    • Diabetic patients must keep their blood glucose level under prescribed limits either through medicine, lifestyle changes, or diet plan.
    • Quit smoking as it can worsen CKD and can counteract blood pressure-related medicines.

Levels of Chronic Kidney Disease

CKD is classified into 5 different stages or levels depending upon the severity. Each stage is categorized on the basis of the glomerular filtration rate and deterioration of each kidney.

Stage of CKD Description of Kidney Functionality
Stage I Kidney damage with GFR >90 mL/min/1.73 m2
Stage II A small decrease in GFR 60-89 mL/min/1.73 m2
Stage III Moderately reduced GFR 30-59 mL/min/1.73 m2
Stage IV Severe reduction in GFR 15-29 mL/min/1.73 m2
Stage V Kidney failure  with GFR < 15 mL/min/1.73 m2

When CKD Patients Should Consult a Doctor?

A person should plan a visit to a good Nephrologist if he or she feels any of the above-mentioned symptoms for more than a month without knowing any hidden causes. The doctor will monitor the blood pressure of the patient and prescribe medicines along with some lab tests of urine and blood and eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate).

If the eGFR rate does not increase to a normal level i.e at least 60 instead of doing medication for months then you have to be more concerned and careful about it.

Associated Risk Factors of Chronic Kidney Disease

Long-term chronic kidney disease can be fatal and death-causing at advanced stages (stage 4 & 5). There is an extreme need for intensive care to avoid any complications concerned with chronic kidney disease. The most common risk factors associated with chronic kidney disease include:

  • Heart failure due to accumulation of toxins and potassium in the body (hyperkalemia)
  • Recurring infections due to decreased immune response
  • Muscle weakness and bone fracture

Difference between CKD and ESRD

CKD Kidney Failure/ESRD
  • The gradual progression of kidney Infection to a certain limit in which kidneys can’t filter the wastes out of the body normally.
  • Untreated CKD eventually results in permanent loss of kidney functionality causing end-stage renal disease.
  • Medicine with a proper treatment plan can slow down kidneys damage.
  • It is complete kidney failure in which dialysis or transplant are the only options for survival after CKD.

Can Chronic Kidney Disease and ESRD be reversed?

As you cross stage 3 renal failure, it becomes almost impossible to reverse the damage. Stage 3 of CKD can stop or slow down by following the proper guidelines of a good Nephrologist and taking a proper kidney-friendly diet.

Stages 4 and 5 usually can’t reverse depending upon the factors or causal agents. Uncontrolled health issues along with kidney infection such as fluid retention, uncontrolled blood pressure, pulmonary edema, chances of hepatitis, mineral imbalances make the situation of a patient more severe.


The spread of CKD is at an alarming level in this decade and demands a more focussed study of health care professionals and awareness campaigns at the international level. Common people should know about the proper kidney-friendly diet chart as well as all the things that can destruct kidney structure and function in any way.

Unaddressed and no medical follow-up in chronic kidney disease can lead to end-stage kidney failure. In this situation, a person has to adopt either artificial blood filtration through dialysis or a kidney transplant.

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