Kidneys

Chronic Kidney Disease

What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition where your kidneys aren’t filtering blood the way they should either due to damage or disease. Typically, the damage to your kidneys happens slowly over a long period of time. This damage can cause waste and toxins to build up in your body. CKD can also cause other health problems.

The kidneys’ main job is to filter extra fluid and wastes out of your blood, making urine in the process. To keep your body working properly, the kidneys balance the salts and minerals—such as calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium—that circulate in the blood. Your kidneys also make hormones that help control blood pressure, make red blood cells, and keep your bones strong.

Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two most common causes of CKD.

Seeing your doctor and getting tested for kidney disease is the only way to confirm you have it. These 10 signs can indicate that you might have the condition:

  • You have an increase in fatigue, less energy, or have trouble concentrating
  • You are having difficulties sleeping
  • Your skin is dry and itchy
  • You are experiencing frequent urination
  • You see blood in your urine
  • Your urine is foamy
  • You experience persistent puffiness around your eyes
  • Your ankles and feet swell
  • You don’t have much of an appetite
  • Your muscles cramp a lot

You should call 911 if:

  • You experience severe shortness of breath
  • You have bloody stools or urine
  • You have a sudden decrease or lack of urine output
  • You experience severe flank pain (the areas around the sides of your body from your upper abdomen to your back
  • You have trouble staying conscious or alert

It is important to note that these symptoms can be signs of kidney failure. Seeking immediate medical attention is priority.

Limit sodium intake

While normal kidneys filter out excess sodium, it becomes increasingly difficult for damaged kidneys to. This can lead to a buildup in your body. Try to avoid heavily processed foods and those with significant amounts of added salt.

Eat lean proteins

Food such as eggs, quinoa, fish, chicken and lean beef provide the protein building blocks needed to build muscle, heal and stay healthy. In addition to help the body repair damaged tissues, lean proteins help keep cholesterol levels in check and protect your heart and kidneys.

Reduce or eliminate added sugar

Added sugar not only contributes to obesity, but it also increases the risk for diabetes, the number one cause of kidney disease. What portions, skip added sweeteners (natural included) and opt for whole food alternatives, like fresh fruit instead of cookies or candies.

Choose whole grains

Unlike refined options, which are stored more easily as fat in your body, whole grains provide your body with a nutrient rich source of carbohydrates, your body’s main energy source.

High quality fluids

With kidney disease, it’s important to drink enough fluids to remain hydrated, but no so much as to overwhelm your kidneys throughout the day. The best way to do this is to eliminate sugary sodas and juices, and stick to fluids such as water, coffee and tea (limit those added sweeteners!) Also remember that certain foods help contribute to hydration, such as

  • soups and stews
  • frozen treats
  • gelatins
  • jellos
  • puddings

If you have Chronic Kidney Disease, we recommend you seek this treatment every year. All of these recommended treatments are covered by AHDI in our Standards of Care.

  • One visit to your doctor a year
  • The following tests one time a year: Hemoglobin or Hematocrit, serum Creatinine, Potassium, Calcium and Phosphorus

For more information, visit https://www.kidney.org/

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, commonly known as COPD, is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that obstructs airflow from the lungs. This condition includes Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema, two of the most common conditions that contribute to COPD.

Chronic Bronchitis is the inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes that carry oxygen to and from the alveoli inside of your lungs. Signs of this condition are a daily cough and the production of mucus.

Emphysema is a condition caused by the damaging effects of cigarette smoke or other irritating gases, and it destroys the alveoli at the end of the smallest air passages inside of your lungs.

The common causes of COPD differ between developed and developing countries. In developed countries like the U.S., the condition is caused by smoking. In the developing world, it is caused by exposure to fumes from heating homes and cooking.

If you think you have COPD, you should make an appointment with your doctor. You can also try this self-assessment as you wait for your appointment:

  • Take a full breath
  • Hold it in for one second
  • Blow out as hard and fast as you can through your mouth (completely empty your lungs)
  • Blowing out all of the air in your lungs should only take 4-6 seconds. If it takes longer than that, you may have reduced lung function

Symptoms of COPD

  • Shortness of breath, especially during physical activities
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • A chronic cough that may produce mucus (sputum) that may be clear, white, yellow or greenish
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Lack of energy
  • Unintended weight loss (in later stages)
  • Swelling in ankles, feet, or legs

At first, COPD can feel like increasing breathlessness over time. It may begin to present itself only when you exercise, and you may also wake up at night feeling breathless. It can also cause a persistent cough, frequent chest infections, and wheezing.

At first, COPD can feel like increasing breathlessness over time. It may begin to present itself only when you exercise, and you may also wake up at night feeling breathless. It can also cause a persistent cough, frequent chest infections, and wheezing.

What to do if you experience an exacerbation of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?

You should call 911 if:

  • You cannot catch your breath
  • Your lips or fingernails turn blue
  • You have a fast heart rate
  • You feel foggy and/or have trouble concentrating

Control your breathing

You can ask your doctor for tips on how to manage your breathing. There are energy conservation techniques and tips for relaxing that you can use when you are out of breath.

Keep your airways clear

COPD causes mucus to accumulate in your airways and this can be difficult to clear. Drinking plenty of water, using a humidifier, and controlled coughing methods can help.

Exercise

Staying active can improve your strength, endurance, and help strengthen your respiratory muscles. Your doctor can recommend activities that are safe.

Eat healthy

Your doctor may recommend supplements if you are underweight. If you are overweight, losing weight can improve your lung function, especially when you are being active and/or exercising.

Stay away from smoke and polluted areas

If you smoke, it is important to quit. Stay away from areas where others are smoking and avoid areas where air pollution are present. Checking daily air forecasts can also be helpful.

If you have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, we recommend you seek this treatment every year. All of these recommended treatments are covered by AHDI in our Standards of Care.

  • One visit to your doctor a year
  • One Spirometry (breathing test) per year

For more information, visit https://www.copdfoundation.org/