Monday, 7 December 2015

What do you know about your kidney?

Most people know that our kidney is to remove waste products and excess fluid from the body. These waste products and excess fluid are removed through the urine. The production of urine involves highly complex steps of excretion and re-absorption. This process is necessary to maintain a stable balance of body chemicals.

Kidney critically regulates our body's salt, potassium and acid content. It produces hormones that affect the function of other organs as well. Hormone produced by the kidneys stimulates red blood cell production, help regulate blood pressure and control calcium metabolism.

Our kidneys are powerful chemical factories that perform the following functions:
  1. remove waste products from the body
  2. remove drugs from the body
  3. balance the body's fluids
  4. release hormones that regulate blood pressure
  5. produce an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones
  6. control the production of red blood cells

What Are Some of the Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease?

Chronic kidney disease is defined as having some type of kidney abnormality, or "marker", such as protein in the urine and having decreased kidney function for three months or longer.

There are many causes of chronic kidney disease. The kidneys may be affected by diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Some kidney conditions run in families.

The following are some of the most common types and causes of kidney damage:
1.    Diabetes is a disease in which your body cannot use normal amounts of insulin properly. This results in a high blood sugar level, which can cause problems in many parts of your body. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease.

2.    High blood pressure is another common cause of kidney disease and other complications such as heart attacks and strokes. High blood pressure occurs when the force of blood against your artery walls increases. When high blood pressure is controlled, the risk of complications such as chronic kidney disease is decreased.

3.    Glomerulonephritis is a disease that causes inflammation of the kidney's tiny filtering units called the glomeruli. Glomerulonephritis may happen suddenly, for example, after a strep throat, and the individual may get well again. However, the disease may develop slowly over several years and it may cause progressive loss of kidney function.
Different types of Kidney Cysts

4.    Polycystic kidney disease is the most common inherited kidney disease. It is characterized by the formation of kidney cysts that enlarge over time and may cause serious kidney damage and even kidney failure. Other inherited diseases that affect the kidneys include primary hyperoxaluria and cystinuria.

5.    Kidney stones are very common, and when they move, they may cause severe pain in your back and side. There are many causes of kidney stones, including an inherited disorder that causes too much calcium to be absorbed from foods and urinary tract infections. Sometimes, medications and diet can help to prevent recurrent stone formation. When the stones are too large to pass, treatments may be done to remove the stones or break them down into small pieces that can be passed out of the body.

6.    Urinary tract infections occur when germs enter the urinary tract and cause symptoms such as pain and burning during urination and increase frequency to urinate. These infections most often affect the bladder, but they sometimes spread to the kidneys, and they may cause fever and pain in your back.

7.    Drugs and toxins can also cause kidney problems. Using large numbers of over-the-counter pain relievers over a long time will be harmful to the kidneys. Certain other medications, toxins, pesticides and "street" drugs such as heroin and ganja can also cause kidney damage.

How is Chronic Kidney Disease Detected?

Early detection and treatment of chronic kidney disease are the keys to keeping kidney disease from progressing to kidney failure. Some simple tests can be done to detect early kidney disease. They are:
1.    A test for protein in the urine.
Albumin to Creatinine Ratio (ACR), estimates the amount of a albumin that is in your urine. An excess amount of protein in your urine may mean your kidney's filtering units have been damaged by disease. One positive result could be due to fever or heavy exercise, so your doctor will want to confirm your test over several weeks.

2.    A test for blood creatinine.
Your doctor should use your results, along with your age, race, gender and other factors, to calculate your glomerular filtration rate (GFR). Your GFR tells how much kidney function you have.

You may have an increased risk for kidney disease if you:
  • are older
  • have diabetes
  • have high blood pressure 
  • have a family member who has chronic kidney disease
  • an African American, Hispanic American, Asians and Pacific Islander or American Indian.
If you are in one of these groups or think you may have an increased risk for kidney disease, you may consult your doctor about getting tested.

Can Kidney Disease Be Successfully Treated?

Good news is that many kidney diseases can be treated successfully.

Careful control of diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure can help prevent kidney disease or keep it from getting worse. Kidney stones and urinary tract infections can usually be treated successfully.

Unfortunately, the exact causes of some kidney diseases are still unknown, and specific treatments are not yet available. Sometimes, chronic kidney disease may progress to kidney failure, requiring dialysis or kidney transplantation.

Treating high blood pressure with special medications called angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors often helps to slow the progression of chronic kidney disease.

How is Kidney Failure Treated?

Kidney failure may be treated with hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis or kidney transplantation. Treatment with hemodialysis (the artificial kidney) may be performed at a dialysis unit or at home.

Hemodialysis treatments are usually performed three times a week. Peritoneal dialysis is generally done daily at home. Continuous Cycling Peritoneal Dialysis requires the use of a machine while Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis does not. A kidney specialist can explain the different approaches and help individual patients make the best treatment choices for themselves and their families.

Kidney transplants have high success rates. The kidney may come from someone who died or from a living donor who may be a relative, friend or possibly a stranger, who donates a kidney to anyone in need of a transplant.

What Are the Warning Signs of Kidney Disease?

Kidney disease usually affects both kidneys. If the kidneys' ability to filter the blood is seriously damaged by disease, wastes and excess fluid may build up in the body. Although many forms of kidney disease do not produce symptoms until late in the course of the disease, there are six warning signs of kidney disease:
  1. High blood pressure.
  2. Blood and protein in the urine.
  3. A creatinine and Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) blood test, outside the normal range. BUN and creatinine are wastes that build up in your blood when your kidney function is reduced.
  4. A glomerular filtration rate (GFR) less than 60. GFR is a measure of kidney function.
  5. More frequent urination, particularly at night; difficult or painful urination.
  6. Puffiness around eyes, swelling of hands and feet.

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