According to abbreviationfinder, a chronic renal failure or CRF is characterized by a decreased kidney function over a prolonged period of time. In the final stage of the disease, the organ no longer works. However, if chronic kidney failure is detected early, a worse course can be stopped and sometimes even reversed.
What is Chronic Renal Failure?
Chronic kidney failure prevents the kidney from working properly. This organ normally detoxifies the body and is responsible for regulating the fluid balance.
There are many potential triggers for kidney failure. Long-term diabetes mellitus or constant high blood pressure can be the cause. Typical symptoms of chronic kidney failure are overhydration, high blood pressure, edema, vomiting, anemia, nausea and potency problems. If these symptoms exist and a disease that promotes kidney disease is present, chronic kidney failure may be the correct diagnosis.
A high level of creatinine in the blood can reinforce this suspicion. Urine and blood analyzes, with which significant kidney values can be determined, are possible diagnostic methods. Imaging methods such as ultrasound, computed tomography and X-ray contrast agent examinations are also used if chronic kidney failure is suspected.
Chronic kidney failure can be triggered by a variety of factors. Often in the Western population, this disease is caused by improper behavior or an unhealthy lifestyle. In many cases the reason is type II diabetes mellitus.
The kidney tissue can also be damaged by painkillers that are often taken and thus cause kidney weakness. If there is high blood pressure, the chronic kidney failure is negatively affected. This leads to complete kidney failure, which leads to a complete loss of urine production.
Other typical diseases that cause this disease are a chronic form of kidney inflammation, chronic inflammation of the kidneys and renal pelvis, damage to the kidney due to high blood pressure, a congenital malformation of the organ with many cysts, kidney damage from painkillers and diseases of the blood vessels or connective tissue. Genetic factors can also determine the course of chronic kidney failure.
Symptoms, ailments & signs
Chronic kidney failure affects the entire body and can cause a number of symptoms. As a rule, there are no physical symptoms in the early stages.
The first signs may be increased urine output and an increased urge to urinate at night. The urine is very light and there is also a strong thirst. During a urine check, an increased excretion of protein (proteinuria) can be noticed. In many cases, water accumulates in the tissues, especially in the legs and eyelids.
As the disease progresses, it becomes noticeable through rapid fatigue and a reduction in performance. The blood pressure can be increased: Chronic kidney failure is to be considered above all if it does not drop to the normal value despite the use of antihypertensive agents. If the chronic kidney failure continues, the typical symptoms are nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, itching all over the body, bone pain, muscle cramps and headaches.
The amount of urine decreases and water retention in the lungs can cause shortness of breath. Often the patients suffer from poor concentration and sensory disturbances, occasionally clouding of consciousness is observed. Cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac insufficiency or pericardial inflammation also occur, the weakening of the immune system leads to an increased susceptibility to infections. Urinary bad breath and yellowing of the skin indicate a late stage of the disease.
Diagnosis & course
Various diagnostic methods are used to diagnose chronic kidney failure. An initial indication can be increased creatinine values, which can be seen from a detailed blood count. If this is the case, further blood and urine analyzes will follow. They provide information about other kidney values such as urea in the blood, the creatinine concentration in the blood and the urine volume.
Imaging processes are also used. With the help of ultrasound, computed tomography and X-ray contrast agent examinations, the diagnosis of renal insufficiency can be carried out and its course monitored. If the suspicion of the disease has been confirmed, the previous effects of the kidney weakness are recorded with a physical examination.
If chronic kidney failure is not treated, the disease will get worse. Eventually, the kidney is no longer able to work and ceases to function completely. Dialysis or kidney transplantation is required in the end-stage of chronic kidney failure.
If left untreated, chronic kidney failure can create some complications. The progressive damage to the kidneys initially leads to high blood pressure, triggered by the decline in urine production and excretion and the resulting excess salt and water. This can later lead to fluid retention in the arms and legs or the lungs.
Edema brings with it, among other things, pain, breathing difficulties and circulatory disorders. Ultimately, chronic renal failure develops into end-stage renal failure; Urine poisoning, gastrointestinal complaints, changes in consciousness, cardiac arrhythmias, pericardial inflammation and finally uremic coma occur. Almost half of all patients die within ten years of complications from kidney disease.
Above all, the terminal degree increases the risk of severe heart disease and stroke. Since the kidneys no longer produce potassium in chronic insufficiency, hyperkalemia can also occur, resulting in muscle weakness, brief loss of consciousness and dizziness. Severely elevated potassium levels can also lead to cardiac arrest or a stroke. Often there are also neurological disorders, disorders of bone metabolism and complaints due to malnutrition.
Treatment & Therapy
Which form of treatment is chosen for chronic kidney failure depends on the stage of the disease and its cause. In principle, there are two therapy methods. Conservative therapy treats the underlying disease and the symptoms caused by the kidney weakness.
The drugs used depend on the underlying disease. To prevent further progression of the kidney weakness despite therapy for the underlying disease, a few things must be taken into account. So the diet should be changed. A lifestyle that is low in protein and low in potassium is now required. Salt should only be avoided as part of conservative therapy if the patient suffers from high blood pressure and edema. The symptoms that develop due to chronic kidney failure can be relieved with medication.
However, if the kidney weakness is already well advanced, no form of therapy can usually reverse the damage to the kidney function. A dialysis or hemodialysis to now is used, which accompanied the victims for a lifetime. The only alternative to constant dialysis is a kidney transplant. The patient then receives a donor organ to treat their chronic kidney failure.
Outlook & forecast
The prospect of a cure in chronic renal insufficiency is considered unfavorable. In most cases, the patients with this disease do not experience a cure, as the disease is classified as incurable by doctors due to the damage to the organ tissue. Due to the poor prognosis and the prospect of a cure, the treatment of the patients is geared towards the alleviation of the existing symptoms. In addition, the progression of the disease should be delayed for as long as possible and at the same time the patient’s quality of life should be optimized.
The kidney tissue suffers irreparable damage in chronic kidney failure. A cure or improvement of the patient’s state of health is then only possible through a kidney transplant. A further complicating factor is that the disease progresses faster in men and older people than in other people affected.
If left untreated, chronic kidney failure leads to immediate death of the patient. With one treatment, life expectancy increases considerably, but it is significantly reduced in direct comparison with healthy people. If the cause of chronic kidney failure is diabetes mellitus, the prognosis deteriorates further.
In addition, many patients die prematurely due to various sequelae of kidney failure. If not only the kidneys but also the vascular system or heart disease occur, the prospect of a cure decreases. In addition, the life expectancy of the patient is shortened.
Chronic kidney failure can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle. It is advisable to always protect the kidney. Therefore, bladder and kidney infections should be treated promptly and consistently. It is also advisable to refrain from medication that can damage the kidneys or to stop taking them if kidney weakness has started. High blood pressure and diabetes mellitus should also be avoided or treated thoroughly.
In most cases, those affected have very few or no follow-up measures available for this disease. The disease cannot be completely treated, so that the life expectancy of the patient is significantly reduced due to the renal insufficiency. In some cases, a transplant can be done to provide permanent relief.
In most cases, drugs that treat kidney failure can be used. Those affected should always ensure the correct dosage and regular intake of the medication. Most of those affected are also dependent on dialysis. The support of your own family and friends is also very important.
Above all, psychological upsets or depression can be alleviated or avoided in this way. In general, a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet also has a positive effect on the course of the disease and can prevent further damage to the kidneys. Those affected should eat a low-salt and low-potassium diet.
High blood pressure should also be avoided. Since chronic kidney failure usually cannot be completely treated, regular examinations of the internal organs are very important in order to identify and treat further complications and damage at an early stage.
You can do that yourself
The possibilities for self-help are limited in the case of chronic kidney failure. The main focus in everyday life is on a healthy lifestyle. Pollutants that enter the body when consuming alcohol or nicotine should be avoided as a matter of principle. These burden the organism unnecessarily.
Measures that help strengthen the immune system are helpful. This includes a regular daily routine, sufficient rest periods, good sleep hygiene and a balanced diet. Vitamins and a diet rich in fiber support the immune system so that the organism is less susceptible to pathogens.
Mental stability and an optimistic outlook on life are very helpful in the case of illness. The social environment should be structured in such a way that it gives the person concerned support and security. Participation in social life must be adapted to the current possibilities and should not be discontinued. Social withdrawal decreases the quality of life and promotes a depressed mood.
Leisure time or sporting activities can be tailored to specific stress-relieving activities or methods. This strengthens well-being and promotes a positive attitude towards life. Optimism and confidence help in spite of all adversities. Although the disease has many negative facets and the course of the disease is very difficult, an affirmation of life is beneficial in overcoming challenging situations and conditions.