chronic kidney disease (CKD)

Advice on living with chronic kidney disease

Dear Patient, thank you for taking the time to read about the ways in which the team here at Steyning Medical Practice would like to help you look after your kidneys.

What is CKD?

You may not have heard the term CKD used. It stands for Chronic Kidney Disease. It’s a relatively new term to describe how well the kidneys are working. Like the rest of us, kidneys are affected as years go on. It’s rightly getting more attention now and we are monitoring increasing numbers of people. We are also looking through peoples notes to check old blood tests, to diagnose it from results which in the past would have been considered normal.

CKD is measured in 5 stages, with 5 being the most severe. It is measured by doing blood and urine tests. Only 3 people in 1000 have stage 4 and 5. Stages 1 and 2 would have been considered by most doctors to be normal in the past.

What do kidneys do?

Kidneys have many functions, but the main ones are

1 - Cleaning the blood

  • They act as a filter, like in a swimming pool.¬†They help clear your body of waste products, drugs and chemicals that your body doesn’t need anymore.

2 - Controlling your blood pressure

  • They help control the amount of fluid in your body. When they go wrong they can’t get rid of fluid so well and your blood pressure goes up, a bit like a tyre with too much air in it. This can put stress on other blood vessels, for example, in the heart, or the brain, and even back in the kidneys.

3 - Controlling some hormones

  • They are also involved in making the hormones that help us make blood or keep our bones strong.

How can you help your kidneys?

The same things that keep your kidneys healthy keep other parts of your body healthy. Staying slim and active with a healthy balanced diet and not smoking will help keep your blood pressure down, which is one of the major factors in your kidneys health. If you have diabetes, then keeping that well controlled will help. Dehydration can put a greater strain on your kidneys so try and avoid being dehydrated. You should avoid medications such as Ibuprofen over the counter and try to take prescribed medications as agreed with your doctor.

Your doctor or nurse will be able to tell how well your kidneys are doing often with annual blood and urine tests. They will monitor your blood pressure and may suggest drugs if needed to get your blood pressure and cholesterol down. For the most severe cases, we can send you to specialists at the hospital.

If you have CKD and develop an acute illness, significant diarrhoea or vomiting for example, you may need to discuss stopping some medications with a Doctor, pharmacist or 111.

We also monitor which medications we prescribe, because some of these can affect your kidneys.

Key Points

  • CKD is a term to describe kidneys that do not work as they did in your youth.
  • Controlling CKD helps your heart stay healthy longer
  • The same things that are good for CKD are good for the rest of your health- good blood pressure, good cholesterol, staying active and slim and not smoking.
  • Sometimes drugs are used to help control CKD.
  • Severe CKD is relatively rare, and can be looked after by teams in the hospital

We hope you have found this information useful as a broad outline of CKD. Please contact the surgery or look on the internet (I suggest nhs.uk/conditions/kidney-disease for more details)

Many Thanks, Dr Salman Jafri