Opinion Columns & Blogs

Kidney disease on the rise – know your risks and what treatment will help

A patient receives dialysis at the Satellite Healthcare clinic in Ceres
A patient receives dialysis at the Satellite Healthcare clinic in Ceres Submitted

In June 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the number of Americans with chronic kidney disease is higher than previously estimated. Now, 1 in 7 American adults, or roughly 29 million people, are estimated to have CKD. This is roughly 15 percent of the adult population.

Finding out you have chronic kidney disease can be scary. It might feel overwhelming knowing you are losing your kidney function. Learning about CKD and treatment options help patients feel a little more in control of their lives.

Symptoms of kidney failure include swelling of feet, ankles, legs, hands and face, being very tired and high blood pressure. As the disease gets worse, it can cause nausea and vomiting, trouble sleeping, itching and loss of appetite.

Astonishingly, 48 percent of those with severely reduced kidney function, but not on dialysis, are not aware they have CKD.

In the Modesto area, 1,902 people are living with kidney failure, with 1,377 on dialysis and 525 having received kidney transplants. These statistics are a reminder to know your risk for kidney disease and the treatment options.

Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two major causes of kidney disease, with nearly three quarters of patients having these underlying conditions. Other causes range from complications from other health issues, to genetic conditions or injuries.

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that help keep the body chemistry in balance. When working normally, kidneys filter the blood and remove waste, toxins, excess salt and water, and make urine. Kidneys also control blood pressure, build red blood cells and balance minerals. A diagnosis of CKD means the kidneys are damaged and can’t filter blood the way they should.

The progression of CKD is measured by blood and urine tests in five stages. In advanced stages, the patient can no longer survive without dialysis – a process that slowly removes wastes and extra fluid to help keep a person’s body chemistry balanced.

For those who know they will need dialysis, health education is the key to choosing the right care. More knowledge about dialysis allows patients to make informed decisions about how they want to live their lives with kidney disease.

Hemodialysis – removing, filtering and returning blood to the body – can be performed in a clinic where patients receive treatment three times a week for 3 to 4 hours. It can also be done at home.

There is another home therapy option called peritoneal dialysis, which uses the body’s natural membrane. A tube, placed in the patient’s belly, removes waste and extra fluid.

Choosing a type of dialysis depends on the patient’s medical needs and what kind of lifestyle the patient wants to lead. You and your doctor will need to work together to find a treatment right for you. Kidney transplant surgery is usually the best option for most people. But often there are no kidneys available.

If you or someone you love develops chronic kidney disease, get active in making healthcare decisions. One size does not fit all. Satellite Healthcare, a national dialysis organization, offers treatments in-center or at home.

Due to an increase in patients who need dialysis in Stanislaus County, Satellite Healthcare has opened a new dialysis center in at 1372 Mitchell Road, Ceres. An open house will be later this summer.

Dr. Swarna Byri is medical director at Satellite Healthcare in Ceres; she wrote this for The Modesto Bee.