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Chronic Kidney Failure: Know the Risk Factors, Signs, & Symptoms

Chronic kidney failure is defined by the gradual loss of kidney function. The seriousness of the disease is highlighted by the critical role played by the kidneys in ridding the body of toxic wastes and excess fluids in the blood by excreting them in urine. The kidneys also help balance the body’s electrolyte levels, control blood pressure, and stimulate the production of red blood cells.

Some of the signs and symptoms of chronic kidney failure are decreased urine output (needing to urinate frequently); nausea; vomiting; loss of appetite; fatigue; sleeplessness; loss of mental clarity; muscle twitches and cramps; swelling of the feet and ankles; and dry, itchy skin.

Because the symptoms of kidney failure are nonspecific and are often not obvious in the early stages, it is important for individuals to know if they are at increased risk for the disease. Some of the factors that increase the risk of kidney failure are diabetes, high blood pressure, family history, enlarged prostate, kidney stones, bladder cancer, and kidney cancer. These people should be monitored for early diagnosis. The increased risk of kidney failure for people with the conditions listed is just another important reason for those people to be wearing medical ID jewelry, like a medical alert bracelet.

Blood tests are most commonly used to diagnose kidney failure, although urine tests, imaging, and kidney tissue samples are also used. A blood test will look at the level of waste products, such as urea and creatinine, in the blood.

Treatment of kidney failure depends on its underlying cause. Most likely, the doctor will focus on the underlying condition to alleviate the symptoms of kidney failure. Medications and changes in diet can help alleviate symptoms such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, anemia, and waste build-up in the blood. If a person’s kidney is functioning at less than 15 percent capacity–known as end-stage kidney disease–dialysis or a kidney transplant will be considered. Dialysis is a process of artificially removing waste products and extra fluid from the blood.

Suffering from kidney failure can be very serious. However, the better informed people are about the disease and its underlying causes, the better they can practice preventative measures to avoid kidney failure. For those people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and a family history of kidney failure, it is especially important to be vigilant and stay healthy. It is essential for people with kidney failure to wear a medical ID tag so that they will be treated correctly in the case of a medical emergency. It is equally important for people who are at risk for kidney failure to wear medical alert pendants or other type of medical jewelry.

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