Kidney Failure

Chronic kidney disease is a loss of kidney function. Kidney failure or loss of kidney function typically occurs gradually over months or years; however, it may also occur rapidly, such as in response to a medical treatment or injury.

Our kidneys perform an essential function of filtering wastes and excess fluid from our blood, which is subsequently excreted during urination. When chronic kidney disease or kidney failure is at an advanced stage, there can be an accumulation of dangerous level of wastes, fluid and electrolytes in the body, which can lead to death without medical intervention.

During the early stage of chronic kidney disease, a person may exhibit few signs of the disease, and symptoms may not be discerned until kidney function is substantially impaired. Medical treatment typically focuses on decelerating the progression of damage to the kidney, which is usually accomplished by addressing the underlying cause.

For example, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, or hypertension, may cause kidney disease, and physicians must treat these conditions in order to slow or prevent further kidney failure. If progression cannot be halted, the patient may sustain end-stage kidney failure, which requires a kidney transplant or dialysis in order to prevent fatality.

Symptoms and effects of chronic kidney disease

The symptoms of chronic kidney disease may significantly impair a person’s ability to function on a daily basis and at work, and treatments for kidney failure have an additional effect. There is a clearly a substantial impact on the ability to work when someone suffering from kidney failure must undergo dialysis multiple times a week and therefore, is unable to work on the days their dialysis is scheduled. Also, recovery after kidney transplant surgery prevents patients from working until they have sufficiently recovered.

Kidney disease may involve the following signs or symptoms, according to Mayo Clinic documentation:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Changes in urination
  • Reduced cognitive abilities or mental acuity
  • Swelling in the ankles and feet
  • Muscle cramps
  • Chronic itching
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath, if fluid builds up in the heart or lungs
  • High blood pressure

Because many of these symptoms are also signs of other illnesses, kidney disease may not be initially diagnosed. And, since our kidneys can adapt and compensate for loss of function, symptoms of kidney disease may not manifest until a person has sustained irreversible damage to their kidneys.

Complications from chronic kidney disease can be felt in almost every part of the patient’s body. In addition to ultimate kidney failure, the potential effects of kidney disease may include:

  • fluid retention in the lungs (pulmonary edema)
  • rapid rise in blood potassium levels which can impair heart function
  • cardiovascular disease
  • weakening of the bones and increased risk of fractures
  • high blood pressure
  • anemia
  • diminished immune response causing vulnerability to infection
  • damage to the central nervous system, which can result in personality changes, concentration problems and/or seizures
  • inflammation of the heart membrane (pericarditis)
  • reduced fertility or sex drive, or erectile dysfunction
  • pregnancy complications

Persons suffering from kidney disease or kidney failure often find their lives are impacted on many levels, including the ability to perform daily chores, physically demanding activities, travel and work duties. Activities that requiring lifting, carrying, reaching and even, walking, may no longer be possible. Swelling and edema due to fluid retention, for example, can make it very difficult to walk or sit for any extended period, and affected persons may need to keep their feet raised above their heart level.

A person with kidney disease may no longer be able to stand or sit for a long period without moving around repeatedly. Severe fatigue and pain may also impact a broad spectrum of activities for the sufferer, including the ability to cook and perform daily chores, as well as any physically demanding or mentally challenging jobs in the workplace.

There are many specific jobs that someone with kidney disease will not be able to perform, such as a commercial vehicle driver, teacher, construction worker, retail salesperson, and a whole host of other jobs that require extended sitting or standing, or don’t allow persons to change their physical position or take a break, whenever their symptoms demand.

There are further job limitations for persons undergoing dialysis who cannot be frequently absent from work multiple times and cannot risk infection while undergoing treatment. Persons suffering from bone pain, diastolic hypertension and serious swelling typically cannot work in a factory, on an assembly line or perform other physically demanding work. In these types of jobs, swelling and pain in the legs, feet, hands and arms can make it impossible to stand or for long periods, or lift and carry objects.

If you have serious symptoms due to chronic kidney disease, are undergoing dialysis, or are recovering from kidney transplant surgery, you are eligible to receive long-term disability (LTD) benefits under your group or individual disability insurance plan. Your LTD insurance provider will provide you with an application that, when completed, must include detailed information from your treating physician that specifies your specific symptoms and how they interfere with your ability to perform the work duties of your job.

If you are suffering from chronic kidney disease and your insurer denied you long-term disability benefits, your best option for resolving your LTD claim favourably is to seek help from an experienced disability lawyer at Kotak Disability Law. Call our office today and we will be pleased to discuss your case and discuss an optimal strategy for resolving your disability dispute as quickly as possible.