In the early or mild stages, kidney disease may have no signs or symptoms. This means that it can sometimes be difficult to detect. In some cases you may notice changes in your body, such as:
· Changes to your urine (colour and smell, or how much or how often you go)
· Swelling of your legs, hands or face
· Tiredness, or feeling unwell
· Persistent thirst
· Itchy skin.
Can kidney disease be treated?
In the very early stages, kidney disease may need little or no treatment. However, kidney disease also raises your risk of heart disease and stroke, and your doctor will want to ensure that this risk is as low as it can be.
Controlling your blood pressure is an important way to reduce kidney disease, and to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Your doctor will want to ensure that your blood pressure is lower than 140/90 mmHg, and in some cases as low as 130/80 mmHg.
ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers are usually the first choice of blood pressure medicine for someone with kidney disease. This is because they help protect the kidneys against further damage. If these medicines do not lower your blood pressure enough then other blood pressure medicines can be used.
If you have diabetes as well as high blood pressure, it is extremely important to keep this controlled. Diabetes can cause serious damage to your kidneys if it is not treated properly.
What can I do for myself?
Your doctor will be able to advise you about making lifestyle changes to help reduce the effects of kidney disease. They may suggest any of the following:
· eating a healthier diet, and reducing the amount of salt you eat
· increasing the amount of regular exercise you get
· stopping smoking
· losing weight if you need to
· cutting back on alcohol.
As well as helping your kidneys, these lifestyle changes will help lower your blood pressure and keep your blood sugar controlled. This will also help to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
If your kidney disease is more severe your doctor may suggest a special diet to reduce the amount of waste products your body produces. This will give your kidneys less work to do.
If you have kidney disease, it is very important that you do not use salt substitutes such as Lo-Salt. These products contain a lot of potassium and, if your kidneys are not working properly, potassium can build up, which can lead to health problems.