Kidney disease can lead to other health problems including weak bones, nerve damage, and malnutrition. The kidneys are a pair of organs located at the bottom of the rib cage. Each kidney is on either side of the spine. Your kidneys are essential parts of your body. Once the kidneys are damaged they lose the ability to function. The functions of the Kidney are as follows:
- The Kidneys are responsible for filtering waste products, excess water, and other impurities from the blood. These toxins are stored in the bladder and then they are removed during urination.
- The kidneys help to maintain the balance of pH, calcium, salt, and potassium levels in the body.
- They play an essential role in the production of red blood cells.
- They maintain the delicate acid-base (pH) balance of your blood.
- The kidney also activates a form of vitamin D that helps the body absorb calcium.
If the disease gets worse, your kidneys may stop working completely. Therefore, dialysis will be required to perform the functions of the kidney. Dialysis filters extra fluid and purifies waste from the blood using a machine. Dialysis does not cure kidney disease, but it can prolong your life.
What are the types of kidney disease?
Each kidney has 1 million tiny filtering units, called nephrons. Any disease that injures or scars the nephrons causes kidney disease. Diabetes and high blood pressure can damage your nephrons. Some types of disease are as follows:
1. Chronic kidney disease
Chronic kidney disease is a long-term condition that does not improve over time and it is commonly caused by high blood pressure. Glomeruli are the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys where blood is purified and high blood pressure increases the pressure on the glomeruli. In time, the increased pressure damages these vessels and kidney function begins to decline.
Kidney function eventually deteriorates to the point where the kidneys can no longer function properly and the person has to go for dialysis. Dialysis filters extra fluid and waste from the blood. Dialysis can help to treat kidney disease but it cannot cure it. A kidney transplant may be another treatment option depending on your health condition.
Diabetes also causes chronic kidney disease. In time, the increased level of sugar in the blood damages the blood vessels in the kidneys resulting in kidney failure. Kidney failure occurs when your body becomes overloaded with toxins and the kidney cannot purify the blood properly.
2. Kidney stones
Kidney stones occur when minerals and other substances in the blood crystallize in the kidneys, forming solid masses (stones). Kidney stones usually come out of the body while urinating. Passing kidney stones can be extremely painful, but rarely cause significant problems.
Glomerulonephritis is an inflammation of glomeruli. Glomeruli are extremely small structures inside the kidneys which filter the blood. Glomerulonephritis is caused by infections, drugs, or congenital abnormalities which occur during or shortly after birth and it gets better on its own.
4. Polycystic kidney disease
Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic disorder which causes numerous cysts to grow in the kidneys. These cysts are small sacs of fluid and can interfere with kidney functions and cause kidney failure. It is important to note that individual kidney cysts are fairly common and almost always harmless. However, polycystic kidney disease is a separate and more serious condition.
5. Urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are bacterial infections of the urinary system. Infections in the bladder and urethra are most common and they are easily treatable. However, if untreated, these infections can spread to the kidneys and cause kidney failure.
What are the symptoms of kidney disease?
Kidney disease can easily go unnoticed until the symptoms become severe. The following symptoms are signs that you might be developing kidney disease:
- difficulty concentrating
- trouble sleeping
- poor appetite
- muscle cramping
- swollen feet/ankles
- puffiness around the eyes in the morning
- dry, scaly skin
- frequent urination, especially late at night
The following severe symptoms could mean that your kidney disease is progressing into kidney failure:
- loss of appetite
- changes in urine output
- fluid retention
- anaemia (a decrease in red blood cells)
- decreased sex drive
- sudden rise in potassium levels (hyperkalaemia)
- inflammation of the pericardium (fluid-filled sac that covers the heart)
What are the risk factors of developing kidney disease?
People who have the following are at risk:
- High blood pressure
- Family members with chronic kidney disease
- If you are elderly
- If you are of African, Hispanic, Asian, or American Indian descent
How is kidney disease diagnosed?
Your doctor has to determine whether you belong in any of the high-risk groups. You will be required to run some tests to see if your kidneys are functioning properly. These tests may include the following:
- Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) – This test will check your kidney function’s and determine the stage of kidney disease.
- Ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) Scan – Ultrasounds and CT scans helps to check your kidneys and urinary tract. These images allow your doctor to see if your kidneys are too small or large and can also show any tumors or structural problems that may be present.
- Kidney biopsy – your doctor will remove a small piece of tissue from your kidney while you’re sedated during a kidney biopsy. The tissue sample can help your doctor determine the type of kidney disease and how much damage has occurred.
- Urine test – when your kidneys are damaged, a protein called albumin passes into your urine. Therefore, a urine sample is required to test for albumin.
- Blood creatinine test – Creatinine is a waste product which is released into the blood when creatine (a molecule stored in muscle) is broken down. The levels of creatinine in your blood will increase if your kidneys are not working properly.
What are the preventive measures for kidney disease?
The risk factors are impossible to control but there are some measures you can take to help prevent kidney disease, such as:
- drinking plenty of water
- control blood sugar if you have diabetes
- control blood pressure
- reduce salt intake
- quit smoking
You can book your health checkup by contacting Health Atmos. We cover all states in India and 25+ countries globally. You can choose a home collection service or walk-in appointment at a lab near you. We will be happy to be at your service. Stay Healthy! Stay Safe!