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Anatomy of the Kidney  
Glomerulonephritis

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Definition  

Chronic renal failure is an deficiency in kidney function. Kidneys clean waste from the blood, which passes out of the body in urine.

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Causes  

Chronic renal failure is often caused by diseases such as:

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Risk Factors  

The following factors increase your chance of developing chronic renal failure. If you have any of these risk factors, tell your doctor:

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Symptoms  

Symptoms include:

  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Not sleeping well
  • Less desire to eat than usual
  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Shortness of breath
  • Altered taste
  • Altered mental state
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Diagnosis  

Your doctors will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:

  • Blood tests
  • Biopsy

Images may be taken of your kidneys. This can be done with ultrasound .

Patients who are already at high risk for kidney disease should be tested more frequently so any damage can be diagnosed early. Patients with kidney disease will be referred to a specialist called a nephrologist, who is dedicated to managing kidney diseases.

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Treatment  

Although chronic kidney disease cannot be cured, it is possible to slow the damage to the kidney in most patients. Your doctor may recommend any of the following:

  • Controlling protein in the urine by restricting the amount of protein in the diet or medication
  • Taking ACE inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor antagonists to slow the progression to chronic renal failure
  • Reducing the use of and the dosages of drugs that may be toxic to the kidneys
  • Managing the complications of chronic renal disease such as fluid overload, high blood phosphate or potassium levels, low blood level of calcium, and anemia
  • Lowering high blood pressure
  • Controlling blood sugar and lipid levels
  • Staying hydrated
  • Controlling salt in the diet
  • Participating in an exercise training program to keep you physically fit and reduce the chance of depression
  • Quitting smoking
  • Undergoing dialysis , a medical process that cleans the blood
  • Having a kidney transplant
  • Counseling for you and your family about dialysis and/or transplant options
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Prevention  

To help reduce your chance of chronic kidney failure, take the following steps:

  • Get a physical exam every year that includes a urine test to monitor your kidney's health.
  • Do not smoke. Stop smoking if you are a smoker.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Drink water and other fluids to stay hydrated.
  • People who have diabetes, previously known kidney disease, high blood pressure, or are over the age of 60 should be screened regularly for kidney disease.
  • People with a family history of kidney disease should also be screened regularly.