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Kidney disease


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Kidney disease is primarily of the nephrons (they filter blood inside the kidney). When the nephrons are damaged, waste products begin to accumulate inside body leading to swelling and complete loss of kidney function.


What are the different types of kidney disease?

Chronic kidney disease
: Kidney function is impaired and it is progressive in nature which ultimately leads to kidney damage. It lasts longer than 3 months.
Kidney stones: They are small hard deposits of salts and minerals inside the kidneys. It’s a very painful condition and if the stone is not removed, it can block the urinary tract and hence, urination.

Kidney cancer: Kidney cancer starts inside the lining of the small tubes of the nephrons. It could be renal cell carcinoma or renal pelvic carcinoma.

Polycystic kidney disease- It is characterized by formation of multiple cysts on the renal tissues. The kidneys enlarge and they function poorly. An individual with PKD is at high risk of kidney failure.

Kidney infections: They could be:
  • Pyelonephritis occurs when the UTI progresses to the kidneys and it’s a life threatening condition.
  • Interstitial nephritis is an inflammation of the kidney tubules and surrounding structures
  • Glomerulonephritis is an inflammation in the glomeruli i.e. the filtering units of the kidneys

What causes kidney disease?

All the aforementioned clinic conditions are primarily responsible for chronic kidney disease. Apart from those, some other factors that contribute to kidney disease are:
  • Viral infections like HIV, hepatitis B and C, etc.
  • Autoimmune conditions- lupus
  • High blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity
  • Prostate enlargement, heart diseases
  • Genetic, family history and congenital defects
  • Side effects and long term use of medicines
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Too much smoking

Decline in renal function can be a part of normal aging process, i.e. after 65 years of age. However, sometimes the reason behind kidney disease may not be known.


Symptoms of kidney disease

There are several symptoms that can tell you about kidney disease. They are:
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Exhaustion, weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling of ankles and feet
  • Frequent or decreased urine
  • Abdominal pain, around the kidneys
  • Blood in urine
  • Decline in cognitive function
  • Constant high blood pressure


Diagnosis of kidney disease

Diagnosis of kidney disease begins with analysing the medical and drug history of the patient, followed by biochemical tests and imaging tests. They are:
  • Blood tests for evaluation of creatinine, urea levels and infections. Urine tests are done for presence of protein and blood in urine. It helps to assess the function of the kidneys
  • Kidney scans like MRI, CT scan and ultrasonography to check the anatomy of the kidney, presence of cysts, tumours, etc. or any other abnormality
  • Kidney biopsy is done to predict the extent of kidney damage and to determine the stage of renal cell carcinoma


Treatment of kidney disease

There are several ways to treat kidney disease.
The treatment plan also involves healing the underlying conditions like high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, eliminating protein in urine, reducing fluid retention, managing electrolyte balance, etc. These disorders are usually taken care of with medicines.

Small kidney stones can also be dissolved with medicines

When kidneys are damaged or cannot function properly, then your doctor might recommend dialysis or kidney transplant. Conventional surgical procedures are also opted for to remove kidneys in case of tumours.

Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and biologic therapies are carried out on patients with kidney cancer.


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Written by: healthplus24.com, team
Date last updated: February 12, 2014

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