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Regular Check-Ups Help Detect Kidney Disease Early, Prevent Progression: Tests You Must Take

Regular Check-Ups Help Detect Kidney Disease Early, Prevent Progression: Tests You Must Take
eGFR is a test that determines your stage of kidney disease.

If diagnosed early, the progression of chronic kidney disease may be slowed down or prevented. Here are the tests that need to be done to detect the condition.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : July 28, 2022 11:12 AM IST

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is on the rise worldwide. In fact, it has emerged as one of the most prominent causes of death and suffering in the past few decades. The increasing burden of chronic kidney disease is linked to the rise in risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes mellitus and hypertension. Chronic Kidney Disease is estimated to affect approximately 10 per cent of the world's adult population. The number of patients affected by CKD was estimated to be 843.6 million in 2017. Regular check-ups are important to identify the condition at its early stage and slow down or prevent the progression of the disease. What are the tests that one needs to undergo for detection of kidney disease, and how often should one get these tests done?

Dr Shankar Prasad N, Professor and Head, Department of Nephrology, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, MAHE, and Dr Srinivas Vinayak Shenoy, Associate Professor, Department of Nephrology, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, MAHE, clear al your doubts about chronic kidney disease here:

What is chronic kidney disease?

Every person has two kidneys in the body, which are responsible for filtering blood, removing wastes, toxins, and excess fluid. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition when your kidneys are damaged and lose their ability to filter waste and fluid out of your blood. This unfiltered waste can pile up in your body that can lead to health complications. End-stage renal disease (ESRD) is when your kidneys have stopped working well enough for you to survive without dialysis or a kidney transplant. Damage to your kidneys cannot be reversed. But if the case of CKD is found at a early stage, it can be treated before it gets worse.

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Signs and symptoms of CKD we should watch out for

Kidney disease does not tend to cause symptoms when it's at an early stage. This is because the body is prepared to cope up with kidney complications to some extent. If kidney disease is not found early or it gets worse despite treatment. Symptoms can include: weight loss, poor appetite, vomiting, bony pains, swollen ankles, feet or hands as a result of water retention, shortness of breath, tiredness, blood in the urine, itchy skin, muscle cramps, etc.

What are the different stages of CKD?

CKD can be divided into 5 stages based on the estimated glomerular filteration rate ( eGFR) . Progression through the stages indicates greater damage, need for more care and frequent follow ups. Stage 5 CKD is also known as end stage kidney disease and at this stage the patient would require dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive.

The estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) is a test that determines your stage of kidney disease or measures your level of kidney function, and it can be calculated from the results of your blood creatinine test, your age, body size, and gender.

Can CKD be prevented with regular check-ups ? How frequently should I get checked?

In the early stages of CKD , there may be few or no symptoms. Hence if diagnosed early, the progression of CKD may be slowed down or prevented .

Even in patients with established CKD, regular follow ups will help in

  • Keeping in check the different risk factors for CKD progression like uncontrolled sugars and blood pressure.
  • Managing the various symptoms associated with CKD.
  • Managing the various complications associated with CKD like anemia, bone disease and fluid retention.

The frequency of check-ups would be decided based on the stage of your illness, underlying co-morbid illnesses and may range from yearly follow ups to monthly follow ups.

What are the tests that need to be done?

To measure the levels of creatinine in your blood, blood tests are done. A urine test is also done to check the levels of substances like albumin, presence of white blood cells, red blood cells, casts. Together with creatinine and other blood tests, urine tests can help give a more accurate picture of how well your kidneys are working.

Sometimes other tests are also used to assess the level of damage to your kidneys like an ultrasound scan to see what the kidneys look like and check whether there are any blockages or a kidney biopsy.

Can a check-up be done at home to prevent/treat CKD?

People can still do "check-ups" at home for CKD on their own before they see their doctor.

  • Monitoring blood sugars with a glucometer for diabetes.
  • Checking blood pressures with home based automated BP instruments.
  • Keeping a check on your weight by exercising and dietary control.
  • Ordering for blood tests/urine tests from local labs with home sample collection facilities.

What are the options for a patient with end stage kidney disease?

When a person reaches end stage kidney disease, their kidneys cannot sustain life without the need of an external intervention which is either in the form of dialysis or kidney transplant. There can be two types of dialysis haemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis. Your nephrologist would advise you the appropriate mode of treatment based on your age and co-existing conditions.