Did you know that kidney disease can affect 1 in 3 American adults? Kidneys are essential parts of the body, and when damaged, can lose the ability to filter the blood and cause wastes and excess fluid to build up.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD), a gradual loss of kidney function over time, is a major public health concern, which often goes undetected until it is in its advanced stage. Most people are not diagnosed with kidney disease until the kidney function is significantly impaired. Because most symptoms are not apparent in the early stages of this disease, it’s important to understand the risk factors associated with it.

The most common risk factors of kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure – responsible for about two-thirds of diagnoses – but they aren’t the only things that can cause kidney disease.

Other common risk factors include:
– Cardiovascular disease
– Family history of kidney disease, diabetes or high blood pressure
– African-American heritage
– Native American heritage
– Age 60 or older
– Obesity
– Low birth weight
– Prolonged use of NSAIDs (medicines that reduce pain, decrease fever, prevent blood clots and decrease inflammation)
– Lupus or other autoimmune disorders
– Chronic urinary tract infections
– Kidney stone

Kidney disease is not only limited to adults. Although relatively uncommon in children, it can also affect children in various ways, ranging from treatable disorders without long-term consequences to life-threatening conditions.

From birth to age 4, birth defects and hereditary diseases are the leading causes of kidney failure. Between ages 5 and 14, kidney failure is most commonly caused by hereditary diseases, nephrotic syndrome and systemic diseases. Between ages 15 and 19, diseases that affect the glomeruli are the leading cause of kidney failure, and hereditary diseases become less common.

Other risk factors affecting children include:
– Infection (Hemolytic uremic syndrome, Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis)
– Trauma
– Urine blockage or reflux

Although most people do not experience symptoms until the later stages, some will notice that they have less energy, a poor appetite, swollen feet and ankles, and an increased urge to urinate. If you begin to feel these symptoms or are at risk of kidney disease, it is important to contact your doctor and get tested because early detection and treatment can slow the progression. Parents of children who are at risk need to look out for these signs, as children may not realize what they are experiencing. This can cause a delay in the diagnosis, which can worsen the damage the kidneys.

To check for kidney disease, your doctor may perform one of the following tests:
– Blood pressure
– Blood test (electrolytes, renal function studies, CBC, albumin)
– Urine test (check for proteinuria)
– Renal ultrasound
– Renal biopsy (glomerular diseases)

While getting tested helps with early diagnosis, it is more important to stay healthy and protect your kidneys. In order to avoid kidney failure, also known as renal failure, follow these guidelines:
– Lower high blood pressure
– Keep blood sugars in control if diabetic
– Reduce salt intake
– Avoid NSAIDs
– Moderate protein intake
– Get flu test annually
– Exercise regularly
– Control weight
– Balance diet
– Stop smoking
– Drink in moderation
– Stay hydrated
– Monitor cholesterol levels
– Get annual physicals

To learn more about this disease or see if you are at risk, contact your healthcare provider today.

National Kidney Foundation www.kidney.org
American Journal of Kidney Disease May 2014, Volume 63, Issue 5

About Dr. Fanny Gonzalez
Dr. Fanny Gonzalez is a pediatric nephrologist in Miami, Florida who has been practicing for over 16 years. She graduated from Universidad Central De Caribe in 2002 and continued her training at Miami Children’s Hospital for Pediatrics and Harvard’s Boston Children’s Hospital for Pediatric Nephrology. Dr. Gonzalez’s main passion and goal is to guide her patients through the sometimes difficult journey and to help them fully understand the condition and disease. For more information about Dr. Gonzalez, click here!