Dr. Rashmi ByakodiSept 14, 2023
The kidneys are the main organs in your renal system. They are bean-shaped organs located underneath the rib cage. Kidneys filter blood and remove waste products, scum, toxins, and excess water through urination. Additionally, your kidneys perform many other vital roles, such as maintaining the fluid balance in the body and producing hormones that regulate blood pressure and stimulate bone strength.
However, for a variety of causes, kidneys might become dysfunctional and develop Renal Disease. As a result, the body gets overloaded with toxic materials and excess fluid. If left untreated, it can lead to a life-threatening condition known as Renal Failure. This article will help you understand Renal Disease and related causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
Renal Disease is a condition in which the kidneys lose their ability to carry out an excretory function or maintain chemical balance in the body, which may lead to the retention of water and waste products in blood. Renal disease can have an impact on red blood cell formation as well as vitamin D metabolism. Moreover, if Renal Disease is left without treatment, it may lead to a fatal condition called a Renal Failure or Kidney Failure.
The primary causes of Renal Disease are diabetes and high blood pressure.
Diabetes: Uncontrollable diabetes can lead to too much glucose in your bloodstream. Consistently high levels of blood sugar (hyperglycemia) may damage the filters of your kidney. Gradually, the kidneys become completely damaged and lead to Renal Failure, where they are no longer capable of filtering the waste products and excess fluid.
High blood pressure: In high blood pressure, the force of blood on the blood vessels increases extensively. It can constrict the blood vessels, reduce the blood flow and eventually weaken and damage the blood vessels across the body, including in the kidneys.
Other causes of Renal Disease may include the following.
Growing cysts in the kidneys (Polycystic kidney disease)
Crystallisation of minerals and other substances in the blood leading to kidney stones
E. Coli bacteria and fungi cause urinary tract infections
Drugs that are toxic to kidneys
Lupus nephritis (kidney disease that is caused by lupus)
Renal artery stenosis
Prolonged use of NSAIDs
The major type of Renal Diseases includes the following.
Chronic Kidney Disease can affect your whole body and the way it functions. It damages the kidneys, making it difficult to filter your blood and remove waste products. With damaged kidneys, you may have high blood pressure or fluid retention and get sick. CKD can also cause other health problems, such as anaemia, increased infections, low calcium levels, high potassium and phosphorus levels in the blood, and loss of appetite.
Glomeruli are tiny filters inside the kidneys which filter the blood. When these filters get inflamed and damaged, they fail to filter the waste and extra fluid from the blood. This condition is known as glomerulonephritis. If not treated in time, glomerulonephritis can lead to kidney failure. Many health problems, such as lupus, good-pasture syndrome, and heavy use of NSAIDs, may cause glomerulonephritis, but it can be treated depending on the cause.
When the urine contains high amounts of calcium, oxalate, and phosphate, it becomes too concentrated and forms crystals. These crystals bind with each other, they form small masses known as kidney stones. If a kidney stone gets stuck to the ureters, it might obstruct the urine flow and cause the kidney and ureter to swell, along with a sharp, throbbing pain in the side and back below the ribs.
PKD is a genetic condition in which numerous cysts start to form in the kidneys. These cysts inhibit the ability of your kidneys to filter wastes and extra fluid from the blood. Gradually it can lead to kidney failure. Although there is no cure for PKD, treatments may decelerate the growth of the cysts.
It is a type of kidney disease caused by lupus which is an autoimmune disorder that damages the body’s own cells and organs. Lupus nephritis may gradually get worse and lead to kidney failure.
These are bacterial infections in any part of the urinary system. Urinary bladder and urethra infections are the most common. UTIs can be easily treatable. However, if left untreated, they can lead to kidney failure.
Renal Disease may show few or no symptoms until they get advanced. However, some early symptoms may include the following.
Extreme tiredness and fatigue
Loss of appetite
Swelling in the ankles and feet
Puffiness in eyes in the morning
Difficulty in concentration
Dry, scaly skin
Frequent urination, especially at night
Symptoms of chronic Renal Disease may look like these.
High blood pressure
Nausea and vomiting
Loss of appetite
Breathlessness if fluid builds up in the lungs
Edema in hands, feet, and ankles
Water retention in body
Reduced urine output
Blood in urine
Impaired mental alertness
Continuous itching in skin
The doctor may perform several kidney function tests to evaluate the condition of the kidneys. If the doctor suspects a risk of kidney failure, they might recommend tests that include the following.
Urine analysis: This test evaluates abnormal protein or sugar spills in urine, urinary sediment evaluation to examine RBCs and WBCs, bacteria, and cellular casts.
Urine volume measurement: This test measures urine output and helps diagnose kidney failure. Low urine output may indicate kidney disease.
Blood tests: Blood tests are done to measure substances filtered by the kidneys such as urea, creatinine, and nitrogen. An abrupt rise in these levels may signify acute kidney failure.
Glomerular filtration rate test: It is a test that examines how well the kidneys are functioning. Precisely it evaluates the amount of blood that passes through the glomeruli every minute.
Biopsy of kidneys: Tissue samples from kidneys are taken and examined for any abnormal growth, deposits, infectious organisms, or scarring.
CT scan, MRI scan, and ultrasound: The scanned images provide the image of the kidneys and urinary tract to detect any disorder.
Various treatment options are available for Renal Disease. Treatment options depend on the type, cause, and stage of Renal Disease.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin-II receptor blockers help your kidneys get rid of extra water and lower the levels of hormones that raise blood pressure. And diuretics make you pee more, which helps your kidneys get rid of extra salt and water that can cause high blood pressure.
The dietary guidelines depend on the stage of Renal Disease. People with Renal Disease should follow a diet that includes the following.
Limiting sodium and potassium intake to less than 2 grams per day
Limiting phosphorus intake below 1 gram per day
Limiting protein intake may help slow down the condition
Avoid foods that are rich in cholesterol
Complete elimination of alcohol from the diet
Dialysis helps filter and purify the blood. There are two types of dialysis.
Hemodialysis: This is a procedure in which a dialyzer is attached to the patient’s body that performs the functions of the kidneys. It continuously cleans the blood.
Peritoneal dialysis: A catheter bag containing dialysis solution is attached to the patient’s abdominal lining. The dialysis solution flows into the abdominal lining, absorbs wastes and excess fluid, and drains back to the catheter again.
This is the end-stage treatment and this procedure includes replacing damaged kidneys with a healthy kidney from one of the donors (may be living or deceased). Immunosuppressant drugs are administered to the patient for the rest of their life to ensure that the body does not reject the transplant.
The best way to prevent Renal Disease is to embrace changes in dietary habits and lifestyle. Some of them are mentioned below.
Eating a balanced diet
Maintain body weight
Reduce intake of salt, sugar, and saturated fat
Avoid foods high in sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and protein
Include more fruits and vegetables in diet
Avoid or limit alcohol consumption
Avoid processed or refined foods
Get enough sleep
Avoid sitting for a long time
Some of the warning signs of Renal Disease are extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, high blood pressure, changes in urine output, bloody or frothy urine, anaemia, persistent itching, and swelling in the hands, feet, and face.
The primary causes of Renal Disease are hypertension, diabetes, and prolonged use of NSAIDs.
To lower your risk of developing kidney disease, you should adopt some lifestyle and dietary changes. These include eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly to maintain a healthy weight, and avoiding foods high in sodium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, and saturated fat. You should also limit alcohol consumption, manage stress, and get enough sleep.
Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.
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