Chronic Kidney Disease and a Career in Nephrology

People who have serious kidney problems, where their kidneys no longer function properly, rely on dialysis to do what their kidneys cannot. A dialysis nurse provides her patients with a higher quality of life by administering the procedure of dialysis.

Dialysis nurses work in the larger field of nephrology nursing, and they have a highly detailed knowledge of many diseases of the kidneys. These nursing professionals medicate, support, and monitor patients who are on dialysis. They also educate them on kidney diseases and the lifestyle choices that will make it easier to keep their disease under control.

The majority of dialysis nurses are RNs or advanced practice nurses, or APRNs, who work in one hospital or may work in several. The career of dialysis nurse allows you to not just make a major difference in your patients’ lives. You also are able to work more regular business hours, and you often have more chances to advance into a higher role.

In adults over 30, the prevalence of chronic kidney disease is expected to rise by 27% by 2030. This means that nephrology, the specialty of medicine that deals with the kidneys should be a career path that more health care professionals consider.

What is chronic kidney disease (CKD)?

CKD is a condition where the kidney loses its normal function over a period of months or years. Each kidney has more than a million filters called nephrons, which are responsible for eliminating waste products from the body. If the nephrons are damaged or worn out, they stop functioning.

At a certain point, the damaged nephrons will fail to filter the blood at an optimal level. When the kidney fails to function normally, it results in kidney failure. If left untreated, it can be life-threatening.

Here are some unknown facts about kidney disorders:

  • There’s no signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease at the early stage.\
  • Chronic kidney disorders are treatable – if treated early.
  • Blood and urine samples are used to detect kidney disease.
  • Kidney disorders can progress to kidney failure.

What causes chronic kidney disease?

  • Diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure) are the common cause of kidney disease. The less common conditions that lead to CKD are glomerulonephritis (inflammation) or pyelonephritis (infections).
    Polycystic disease or prolonged blockage in the urinary system, such as kidney stones or an enlarged prostate can result in kidney diseases.
    Certain kind of drugs causes chronic kidney disease, such as analgesics (painkillers).
    Signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease

Around 90% of the kidney functions stop working before experiencing any kind of symptoms. A majority of people have no signs and symptoms until CKD is at an advanced stage. The general symptoms of chronic kidney disease are:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Blood in urine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Increased thirst
  • Muscle cramps

How is kidney function measured?

The main function of the kidney is to maintain optimal levels of creatinine in the blood. Creatinine is a waste product produced by muscles and excreted by the kidneys. When kidney function is impaired, creatinine accumulates in the blood that results in elevation when a blood sample is tested. This can be used to assess kidney function.

Kidney function is can also be measured with a GFR (Glomerular Filtration Rate) test. It measures the blood filtration rate by the kidneys and it helps doctors to determine the kidney function.

Chronic kidney disease stages
Kidney disease progresses slowly with no traces of any signs or symptoms. Not all kidney disorders start from stage 1 to stage 5, some can be treatable depending upon the conditions. The end stage of stage 5 is called End-stage renal disease(ESRD).

If the GFR level (Glomerular filtration rate) is at 90 mL/min then kidneys are healthy

Stage 1: – If the GFR level is 90 mL/min or more, kidney damage with a normal rate of GFR
Stage 2: – If the GFR level is 60 to 89 mL/min, kidney damage and a mild decrease in GFR
Stage 3: – If the GFR level is 30 to 59 mL/min, a moderate decrease in GFR
Stage 4: – If the GFR level is 15 to 29 mL/min, severe decrease in GFR
Stage 5: – If the GFR level is less than 15 mL/min or dependent on dialysis, kidney failure

How is chronic kidney disease treated?
There’s no permanent cure for chronic kidney disease, but treatment can stop the progression of the disorder and avoid the complications.

The main elements to keep the kidneys at a good score is diet and medications. Patients suffering from the end stage of renal diseases need long-term dialysis or kidney transplantation. A proper diet and medications might help to maintain the kidneys if it’s in the early stage of kidney diseases.

If the person has kidney failure, waste products and fluids get accumulate in the body and need dialysis treatment to eliminate the toxins. The dialysis can be done by machine (hemodialysis) or by infusing fluids in the abdomen (peritoneal dialysis).

How to prevent kidney disorder?

A healthy lifestyle helps to reduce the risk of kidney disease and helps to keep them under control. Follow these healthy tips to lower your risk factors, such as:

  • Have a low-sodium diet
  • Exercise for 30 minutes a day
  • Don’t skip health check-up appointments
  • Limit intake of alcohol
  • Avoid usage of tobacco
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Control blood sugar levels, if you’re diabetic


Article Source

Stages of Chronic Kidney Disease by Fresenius Kidney Care
CKD Stage 5
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)