The kidneys are fist-shaped organs located at the base of a person’s rib cage. There is one kidney on each side of the spine. Kidneys are an essential part of a healthy body. They are tasked with filtering waste products, impurities, and excess water out of a person’s blood.
The toxins filtered out by kidneys are then stored in a person’s bladder and then removed through urination. Kidneys also help regulate potassium, salt, and pH levels in the body. They produce hormones that regulated a person’s blood pressure and help control the creation of new red blood cells. The kidneys also help to activate a type of vitamin D that helps ensure the body can absorb calcium.
Understanding Kidney Disease
Approximately 26 million adults in the U.S. suffer from kidney disease. This occurs when their kidneys become damaged and are no longer able to work properly. Damage can occur due to high blood pressure, diabetes, and several other chronic conditions. If someone develops kidney disease, they may also suffer other problems, such as kidney stones, malnutrition, nerve damage, weak bones, and more.
If the situation or disease becomes worse as time passes, a person’s kidneys may stop working altogether. What this means is that dialysis is necessary to restore kidney function. Dialysis is a treatment option that will purify and filter the blood using a machine. While it cannot cure kidney disease, it can help to prolong a person’s life. Remember, kidney disease and Kidney Cancer are two different conditions.
There are several different types of kidney disease. Learn more about these below.
Chronic Kidney Disease
The most common type of affliction that affects the kidneys is chronic kidney disease. This is a longer-term condition that will not improve as time passes. It is often caused by high blood pressure.
Cases of high blood pressure are considered dangerous for a person’s kidneys because it will increase the total amount of pressure on the person’s glomeruli. The glomeruli are the small blood vessels present in the kidneys where the blood will be cleaned. As time passes, these increased damages caused by pressure can damage the vessels, which will cause the function of the kidneys to decline, as well.
At some point, the function of the kidneys will deteriorate to the point where the kidneys are unable to perform their job correctly. When this happens, dialysis is needed. As mentioned above, dialysis will help treat kidney disease, but it can’t cure it.
Another common kidney issue is kidney stones. They can occur when minerals and other substances may crystalize in a person’s kidneys, forming solid stones or masses. Usually, kidney stones will come out of the body while a person is urinating. While passing kidney stones is often painful, they usually don’t cause serious problems.
This is a condition that occurs when the glomeruli are inflamed. These are the very small structures located in the kidneys that are responsible for filtering a person’s blood. Glomerulonephritis is often the result of congenital abnormalities, drugs, and infections. Sometimes this condition will improve on its own.
Polycystic Kidney Disease
Polycystic kidney disease is a type of genetic disorder that can create several cysts (these are smaller sacs of fluid) to grow in a person’s kidneys. The cysts may interfere with normal kidney function eventually resulting in kidney failure. Take note that individual kidney cysts are more common than most people think and usually harmless. However, polycystic kidney disease is a more serious, separate condition altogether.
Urinary Tract Infections
A urinary tract infection or UTI is a type of bacterial infection to any part of a person’s urinary system. Infections in the urethra and bladder are the most common that occur. These situations are easy to treat and don’t usually lead to any more serious health issues. However, if these conditions are not treated in a timely manner, they may spread to the kidneys, leading to kidney failure.
Common Symptoms of Kidney Disease
Sometimes, people who suffer from kidney disease will not notice the symptoms until they become more serious. There are several early warning signs of this condition. These symptoms include swollen ankles and feet, fatigue, muscle cramping, issues concentrating, poor appetite, issues sleeping, eye puffiness, frequent urination, and dry and scaly skin. Some of the more severe symptoms of this condition include high potassium levels, reduced sex drive, anemia, fluid retention, loss of appetite, vomiting, and nausea.
Risk Factor for Developing Kidney Disease
People who have diabetes also have a higher risk of developing kidney disease. In fact, diabetes is the top cause of kidney disease and accounts for approximately 44% of all new cases. Some people may be more likely to suffer from kidney disease if they are elderly, suffer from high blood pressure, are American Indian, Asian, Hispanic, or African descent, or have other family members who suffer from this condition.
Diagnosis Options for Kidney Disease
When it comes to diagnosing kidney disease, a doctor will consider several things. For example, they will determine if a patient belongs to one of the high-risk groups mentioned above. They will also run a few tests to figure out if the individual’s functions are working properly. Some of the tests that the doctor may perform include the GFR – Glomerular filtration rate, CT scan or ultrasound, a kidney biopsy, urine test, and blood creatinine test.
Treatment Options for Kidney Disease
Kidney disease treatment will typically focus on controlling the underlying cause of the condition. This means that a doctor can help a person manage their blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. There may be some methods for treating kidney disease they try, including medications, lifestyle and diet changes, and in extreme conditions, dialysis.
Understanding the impact of kidney disease can help a person see why they should be proactive if they are diagnosed with this condition. Listening to a doctor’s tips and advice is the best way to handle this situation and avoid long-term consequences.