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CHAPTER 2








         WHAT IS CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE?






              hronic Kidney Disease                                 STAGES OF CKD
              basically means that the       Stage     GFR*               Description
        Ckidneys have, over time,            1         90+          Normal kidney function although there
        lost their ability to perform as                            may be slight kidney damage with
        well as they used to; leading to a                          normal or increased GFR.
        build-up of toxins in the blood.
        Severity can vary from mild or       2         60-89        Mild decrease in kidney function.
        moderate to more serious cases       3         30-60        Moderate decrease in kidney function.
        (these can lead on to end-stage      4         15-30        Severe decrease in kidney function.
        kidney      disease).    Doctors
        generally talk about 5 stages of     5         Less         Very severe or end-stage kidney failure
        CKD based on an individual                     than 15      that usually requires dialysis.
        patient’s level of kidney function.  *GFR refers to Glomerular Filtration Rate or more simply the percentage kidney function that a
                                            person has and generally ranges from <10% (very poor) to 100% (normal) – this will be explained
        The level or percentage kidney      more on page 6.
        function can be estimated for
        any person by a formula known          If you have CKD, it is important  feel unwell. If it is more
        as the GFR.                         that you attend your doctor for     advanced, you are more likely to
           The kidneys have a very large    regular blood monitoring so that    notice symptoms and feel ill.
        overcapacity – this means that      the disease and its progression is     Common symptoms of reduced
        they are usually capable of much    monitored and that you are          kidney function include loss of
        more than they actually need to     treated with medications that       appetite, slight nausea and
        do and means you can lose some      will slow or prevent your kidneys   increasing fatigue (one of the
        kidney function and still feel      from deteriorating.                 most     common      symptoms).
        well. This is why some people          Once kidney function has         Other symptoms can include
        can generously donate one of        been lost, it is extremely unlikely  headaches, high blood pressure,
        their kidneys to someone else       that it will recover.               fluid retention, increase in the
        and still live a healthy life with                                      amount and number of times
        their one remaining kidney.         SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS                  urine is passed, pain in the
           The downside to that is that if     Not everyone will develop        kidney area, reduced sex drive,
        you develop CKD, you may not        noticeable signs and symptoms       lack of concentration and itching.
        notice that it is happening as      of CKD as it may happen over a         Not everyone with CKD
        many      patients    have    no    period of years. A person can       will experience all of these
        symptoms. Most people can live      become used to symptoms such        symptoms.
        with CKD for a long time, but if it  as tiredness and not realise that     Remember – you can feel
        is not managed and treated          they are caused by a reduction in   perfectly healthy but blood and
        effectively, it can increase the    their kidney function.              urine tests can show that you do,
        risk of heart disease and other        With mild to moderate reduced    in fact, have impaired kidney
        complications.                      kidney function, you may not        function.

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