In today’s article I want to talk to you about chronic renal failure; what it is, what causes it, the best blood tests, and a whole lot more. However, today I want to do something a little different, I want to break it down in to an A to Z guide so you can quickly reference the major key topics – so in that way you have a valuable resource to refer back to in the future.
Chronic renal failure is an interesting condition, it affects 2 out of every 1,000 people in the United States; 11% of all deaths in Australia are due to, or associated with, renal failure; 20 to 30 percent of people with diabetes will develop kidney disease; 1 in 9 adults have a minimum of one renal failure sign or symptom; it is one the quickest growing diseases in the world… yet it is still largely not a condition that many understand, or have been appropriately informed about.
But before I go into any specifics with this condition, I wanted to quickly define exactly what I am referring to when I say “Chronic Renal Failure”. For the purposes of this article, chronic renal failure means any dis-ease of the kidneys that causes diminishment of kidney function, as shown by an estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate test (eGFR). In contrast, the term “End Stage Renal Failure” only describes kidneys that have a kidney function of less than 15%.
The Ultimate A-Z Guide To Chronic Renal Failure
A is for Alkaline
Alkalinity is an important concept to understand and implement when dealing with chronic kidney failure. Alkalinity is a must for your body’s tissues to survive and thrive. In fact, your body will do anything it can to keep your blood pH in the narrow window of 7.35 to 7.45pH – your body will literally break down its bones for the calcium contained within them to keep your body alkaline!
Normally however, keeping the body acid/alkaline balance within your body is the job of the kidneys. When your kidneys begin to diminish in function so too does their ability to excrete the acid and maintain the alkalinity in your blood. Therefore eating an alkaline diet is the best way to protect and improve the health of your kidneys.
To add further strain on already strained kidneys, many of today’s lifestyle choices are acid forming as well as changes to our environment:
- Diet: e.g. alcohol, sugar, coffee, red meat, grains
- Chemicals: e.g. industrial chemicals, cleaning products, paint, makeup and cosmetics
- Heavy metals
- Excess exercise
- Sedentary lifestyle
For more information on alkalinity and the alkaline diet, please see my article here.
- Monitors the progression of your condition
- Tracks that your treatments are working
- Informs you of any abnormal developments in your health
- Allows you to tailor your diet to suit your needs e.g. potassium, phosphorus, sodium, vitamin D, and calcium levels
- By knowing the current state of your body, and understanding that state, you’re better equipped to make positive changes. It is shown people feel more in control and are more likely to make the changes when they understand their condition and all facets related to their condition.
- It will show you your current percentage of kidney function
The best blood tests to assess your renal failure are:
- Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR)
- 24hr creatinine clearance
- Kidney biopsy
Please see my article here for a detailed description of each test in chronic renal failure: Top 7 Kidney Tests To Measure Your Kidney Function
Other important tests include: Potassium levels, Sodium levels, Phosphate levels, Vitamin D levels, Calcium levels, Parathyroid hormone levels, and Hemoglobin levels.
Time has flown by once again, and therefore it is well and truly time to write my next article to help those with kidney disease. Today I wanted to cover a very important topic: kidney tests.
Kidney tests are the first stage of any great treatment program. There is no point coming in with “guns a blazing” (diets and treatments) if you don’t know exactly what has caused your condition, what degree of deterioration your condition is at, and a general reference point of where you are beginning with treatment – this is particularly important, as you want to know if all the good work is paying off!
As you are probably aware kidney disease is known as a “silent killer”. Typically because of late diagnosis, coming well after the damage has already been caused – giving little time to treat. So if you are reading this right now with only a ‘suspicion’ that something is a foot with your kidney/urinary tract health, please take this friendly suggestion and “go and have your kidneys tested this week”. This is of great importance; it may just save your life, or better yet, give you a disease free, vital life (I’m all about quality, not quantity).
One simple way to do this (and a great place to start) is getting it done as part of your yearly check-up. There is a test known as a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel which will test many aspects of your health: liver health, heart health, nutrition levels, and of course, kidney health. Most good doctors will do this as part of your ‘yearly check-up’, but don’t take that as a given, it is not. Therefore it is always a good idea to request this test or give your doctor a friendly reminder to do so.
Kidney Tests – Overview
Now there are many specific kidney tests available to check your kidney function, and most of these are very easy to do – simply requiring a blood sample. The most important kidney tests available are as follows:
1. Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR)
3. 24hr Creatinine Clearance
6. Kidney Biopsy