The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped, fist-sized organs located at the bottom of the rib cage. There is one kidney on either side of the spine. And in today’s time, there are several common kidney disease.
Kidneys are essential to having good health. They are responsible for filtering waste, excess water, and other impurities out of the blood. These toxins are normally stored in the bladder and then removed during urination, which is a function performed by the kidneys. The kidneys also regulate pH, salt, and potassium presence in the body. They produce hormones that regulate blood pressure and the production of red blood cells. The kidneys also activate a form of vitamin D that helps the body absorb calcium. As such, kidneys are indispensable to the functioning of the human body, and any renal disorders can affect the functions of other organs.
Kidney-related diseases occur when the kidneys become damaged and can’t perform their basic functions. Renal disorders may be caused as a result of high blood pressure, diabetes and various other chronic, underlying conditions. Kidney disease can become a cause of other health problems, including weak bones, nerve damage, and malnutrition.
If the renal disease worsens, the kidneys may stop working completely, leading to renal failure. This implies that dialysis will be required to perform the function of the kidneys. Dialysis is a procedure that filters and purifies the blood using a machine, which would otherwise be done by the kidneys.
TYPES OF KIDNEY DISEASE
- Chronic Kidney Disease: Chronic kidney disease is the most common type of kidney disease and is a long-term condition, mostly caused by high blood pressure. Kidney function deteriorates over time to the point where kidneys can no longer function independently. This condition eventually leads to renal failure, which can be treated through dialysis though it cannot be cured by it. Depending upon other health factors, a kidney transplant may be another option in such a case.
Another major cause of chronic kidney disease is diabetes. The increased levels of sugar damage blood vessels in the kidney over time. Kidney failure is a possibility when the body becomes overloaded with such toxins.
- Kidney stones: These are another common kidney problem across all age groups. They occur when minerals and other granules in the blood crystallize in the kidneys, forming solid masses or stones. Kidney stones usually come out of the body during urination by increasing water intake or through certain medication. Kidney stones generally do not cause any other significant health problems.
- Glomerulonephritis: This is a kidney-related disease caused by the inflammation of the glomeruli, which are tiny structures in the kidney that filter the blood. As a result, they have reduced ability to perform their primary function. Glomerulonephritis can be treated with medication but, over time, may cause kidney failure.
- Urinary Tract Infections: Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are bacterial infections in any part of the urinary system. They are the most common type of kidney disease. Infections in the bladder and urethra are most common. These are easily treatable through medication and rarely pose a serious health challenge.
- Polycystic Kidney Disease: This is a genetic disorder that causes numerous cysts (small sacks of fluid) to grow and accumulate in the kidneys. These cysts can obstruct kidney function and cause kidney failure. Treatments can be administered to slow the growth of these cysts. It is important to note that individual kidney cysts are fairly common and almost always harmless and easily treatable. Polycystic kidney disease is a different, more serious condition.
- Lupus Nephritis: This is an autoimmune disease that causes pain, swelling, and damage to several parts of the body, including the kidneys. Lupus nephritis is not curable, but the symptoms can be controlled with treatment, and serious kidney damage can be prevented. If left untreated or ignored, it can lead to other types of chronic kidney diseases.
- Haematuria: This is a condition which causes blood to be present in urine. It is caused by kidney stones, tumours in the bladder or kidney, or glomerulonephritis. If blood in the urine is not visible to the naked eye, glomerulonephritis may be the cause. If someone has been checked to rule out cancer of the kidney or bladder and continues to get blood in the urine, they should seek medical advice. Referral to a nephrologist may be needed if glomerulonephritis is suspected and the kidney function is reduced.
- Fabry Disease: Fabry disease is a genetic disorder. It is named after Dr. Johann Fabry, who specialized in work researching symptoms of Fabry disease. A chemical called ‘GL-3’ which would normally be broken down, builds up and causes damage to the heart, kidneys and brain. Fabry disease generally becomes a chronic kidney problem.
- IgA Nephropathy: IgA is short for Immunoglobin A, which is an antibody produced in the body to fight infection. It circulates in the blood. The IgA settles in the kidney in this condition, causing scarring and damage. It can only be diagnosed through a biopsy after examination under a microscope. Therefore, this condition is characterized by symptoms in which the immune system damages the kidney.
SYMPTOMS OF COMMON KIDNEY DISEASES
Even common kidney diseases can go unnoticed if symptoms are mild. Delay in treatment can cause serious damage. The following symptoms are early warning signs which need attention and treatment.
– Muscle cramping
– Poor sleep and appetite
– Swollen limbs
– Frequent urination
– Dry, flaky skin
– Nausea and vomiting
– Fluid retention
– Rise in potassium levels
PREVENTION OF KIDNEY DISEASE
Risk factors such as genetics, age and family history are impossible to control. However, certain changes in daily living can impact the health of the kidneys and prevent the onset of many types of kidney diseases.
– Increased water intake
– Controlled blood sugar
– Controlled blood pressure
– Stopping the intake of tobacco
– Reduced salt intake
– Limited intake of animal protein
– Limited intake of citric acid present in fruits like oranges, lemons, grapefruit
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