Healthy kidneys are important for removing toxins from the body and maintaining the balance of electrolytes. When our kidneys are not working properly, it can put us at risk of many diseases ranging from gout, anemia, secondary hyperparathyroidism (SHPT), bone disease, heart disease to fluid retention. In chronic kidney disease (CKD), a common condition that can affect people of all ages, the kidneys are irreversibly damaged and cannot filter blood effectively. Although it is more common in people with diabetes, high blood pressure and other such health conditions, it can also affect children born with this congenital anomaly or teenagers suffering from conditions such as glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the kidneys) or nephrotic syndrome. (Also Read: Acute Kidney Failure vs Chronic Kidney Failure: Treatment, Tips to Avoid Kidney Problems)
“Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a medical condition that affects the kidneys’ ability to filter waste and excess fluid from the blood. Like adults, it can occur in children. Low birth weight infants are more likely to have underdeveloped kidneys, which put them at a higher risk of developing CKD. puts it at risk,” says Dr Nisha Krishnamurthy, Consultant, Pediatric Nephrology, NH SRCC.
Causes of chronic kidney disease in children
The most common cause of CKD in children is a congenital anomaly, which means the child was born with a structural defect in the kidneys or urinary system.
“Other causes may include prematurity, infection, inflammation, glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the filtering units), vesicoureteral reflux (urine backs up from the bladder to the kidney), hemolytic uremic syndrome (a rare condition that occurs after a bacterial infection), disease (a genetic condition where A fluid-filled cyst develops in the kidney), “Dr. Krishnamurti says.
Symptoms of chronic kidney disease in children
Dr Krishnamoorthy says that in the early stages, chronic kidney disease may show no signs or symptoms, as the condition progresses, children may experience fatigue, weakness, poor appetite, weight loss, reduced urine output, foamy or bubbly urine, swelling. Hands, feet or face, high blood pressure, blood in urine, anemia etc.
The treatment for CKD is a kidney transplant. But other treatments are available to manage symptoms and slow the progression of the condition.
Medicines: Depending on the cause of CKD, your child’s doctor may prescribe medications to help manage symptoms such as high blood pressure, anemia, and bone disease.
Dietary changes: A diet low in salt, potassium and phosphorus may be recommended to help reduce the workload on the kidneys.
Dialysis: In severe cases of CKD, dialysis is needed to help filter waste and excess fluid from the blood. Hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis are two forms of dialysis. Hemodialysis uses a machine to filter the blood, while peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of the abdominal cavity to filter the blood.
Kidney transplant: End-stage CKD cases require a transplant that involves transplanting a healthy kidney from a donor into the child’s body. This can be done pre-emptively to avoid going on dialysis.
It is strongly recommended to seek the help of pediatric nephrologists who can provide highly specialized care to children. So there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Kidney failure can be managed well to give your child a normal and active life.
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