The human body is made up of different organs that work in sync to keep us alive and physically active always. Without these organs, there’ll be no life (except for the spleen and gall bladder that you can do without). Amongst all the vital organs of the body is the kidney. It’s a two fist-sized, bean-shaped organ positioned at both sides of the spine below the ribs.
The kidneys spend all of their lifetimes filtering blood to make it free from waste. They are also responsible for balancing electrolyte levels in the body. Waste filtered from the blood by the kidneys is moved to the urine and is excreted out of the body. No blood circulates through the body without passing through the kidney. It’s a big task for the kidneys, so it needs to be in a good shape and form all the time. When there’s an issue with your kidneys, it may result in severe health problems. It can be life-threatening at that. This leads us to kidney disease.
What Is Kidney Disease?
Kidney disease involves a gradual decline or total loss of kidney function. As earlier stated, the kidney is responsible for filtering blood to get rid of waste from it and also balances the electrolyte levels of the body. When there’s a total loss of kidney function, blood will be left unfiltered, leading to a buildup of waste and electrolytes in the body. At the early stage of this condition, the signs and symptoms may not be evident. You only get to see the signs and symptoms when the kidney disease is at an advanced phase.
What Causes Kidney Diseases?
Let’s have a look at the primary causes of the two most common kidney diseases.
· Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease occurs when your kidney doesn’t function efficiently for more than 3 months. Symptoms may not be seen at the early stages of this condition, making it the perfect stage to treat the condition. Notable diseases and other conditions that pose as the main culprit for this disease include:
- Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- High sugar levels
- Glomerulonephritis (a condition characterized by an inflammation of the glomeruli which are the kidney’s filtering units.
- Other inherited kidney diseases
- Interstitial nephritis ( a condition characterized by an inflammation of the kidney’s tubule and other surrounding structures
- Polycystic kidney diseases
- Pyelonephritis (recurrent kidney infection)
- Vesicoureteral (a state whereby urine is pushed back into the kidney)
- Long-lasting viral illnesses like HIV and AIDS
- Hepatitis B and C
Acute Kidney Diseases
Acute kidney disease also known as acute kidney injury or acute renal failure is a condition characterized by a sudden stop in the functioning of the kidney. This condition is mostly caused by:
- Shortage of blood flow in the kidneys
- Direct damage to the kidneys
- Severe heart or liver failure
- Autoimmune diseases
What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Diseases?
The signs and symptoms of kidney disease may not be noticeable during the growth phase. When the kidney damage progresses slowly, it eventually leads to a total loss of kidney function. This causes a buildup of fluid or body waste while giving off an irregular electrolyte level.
Depending on how bad the condition is, their common symptoms include:
- Unnecessary fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping
- Frequent urination or reduced urination
- Muscle issues
- Difficulty breathing (when fluid builds up in the lungs)
- Dry and itchy skin
- Chest pain (when fluids build up around various parts of the heart).
- Mental issues.
Are There Any Possible Risk Factors Of Kidney Disease?
Factors that increase your risk of kidney disease include:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Family history of the disease
- An abnormal structure of the kidney
- Old age
- Frequent use of medications that are harmful to the kidney
What Are The Effects Of Kidney Disease?
Chronic kidney disease can pose more danger to almost all parts of your body. Some of the effects of this disease include:
- Heart disease
- Increase in the level of potassium in the blood (Hyperkalemia)
- Weak bones (osteoporosis)
- Damage to your brain causes seizures or mental issues.
- Fluid retention leads to high blood pressure
- Swelling in both arms and legs
- Pulmonary edema
- Reduced sex drive and fertility
- Pericarditis (a condition characterized by inflammation of the sac-like membrane around the heart).
How Do I Prevent Kidney Diseases?
There’s a saying that reads “Prevention is better than cure”. You should take some preventive measures for kidney diseases now that you’re still on the better side than going for a kidney transplant. To reduce the risks of getting caught up with kidney disease, here are some preventive measures.
· Always maintain a healthy weight
If you’re currently at a good and healthy weight, you should maintain it by carrying out exercises and other physical activities during the week. When you insist on losing some weight, you should consult your doctor for some healthy weight loss strategies rather than taking pills.
· Avoid Smoking
Aside from having a severe effect on the brain, cigarette smoking can damage your kidneys, and even worsen an existing kidney condition. If you’re addicted to it, chill, take a deep breath and consult your doctor today on various strategies to quit.
· Always follow instructions on over the counter medications
When taking non-prescription pain relievers like aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen, you should always follow the instructions given on the package. Mind you, continuous taking of pain relievers for a long period can also lead to kidney damage.
· Manage your medical conditions
If you’re a sufferer of any disease that tends to increase your risk of getting affected with the kidney disease, it’s recommended you work with your doctor to manage and control them.
What are the Possible Ways of Treating Kidney Disease?
Aside from acute kidney disease, other forms of the disease can be treated. The main aim of the treatment is to reduce the effects of the disease, ease the symptoms, and also suppress the disease from getting worse. Though there is no current cure for kidney disease, treatments can at times help restore some of your kidney function.
When the disease gets to a phase where the kidney can’t filter and get rid of body waste, you’ll need to be treated for end-stage kidney disease. This treatment includes:
- Dialysis: this treatment involves getting rid of water and extra fluid from the body artificially when the kidney can’t do the job anymore. Dialysis is grouped into two:
- Hemodialysis: In this form of dialysis, a machine is used to remove waste and extra fluid from the blood.
- Peritoneal dialysis: this involves putting a thin tube (known as a catheter) into your abdomen. A solution is then passed through the tube into your abdomen which absorbs the wastes and fluids. After a while, the solution then drains out from your body.
- Kidney Transplant: To get those waste filtered out, and for a balanced electrolyte level, a surgeon needs to replace your kidneys with a new one from a donor. Humans are born with 2 healthy kidneys and can survive with just one. After the transplant is complete, you’ll be on medications for the rest of your life just to ensure your body doesn’t see your new kidney as a foreigner.
Kidney disease is part of the leading causes of death in the US. Due to the high rate of smoking and other factors, the disease seems to be prevailing. Though this disease looks very deadly, they are different ways in which you can prevent it. When affected, you can treat this disease, but remember, preventive measures are advised to avoid getting affected.