Kidney Diseases: Know More
We’re born with two kidneys. Made up of 1 -1.5 million nephrons (tiny filters) each, our kidneys perform the complex task of filtering the blood in our body. They remove the excess water, toxins and waste substances/ chemicals as urine.
However, even slightest damage to the kidneys can lead to toxin and fluid build-up in the body, which in turn can cause permanent kidney damage.
How a healthy kidneys function:
- Maintains a healthy balance of water and minerals like sodium, potassium, and phosphorus in your blood
- Helps remove toxins and waste products from the blood
- Produces renin, which helps manage blood pressure
- Produces erythropoietin, which in turn helps your body produce red blood cells
- Produces an active form of vitamin D that’s crucial bone health and other functions
Kidney failure or the inability of the kidneys to perform the above functions can be classified into two:
1. Acute Kidney Diseases
If the kidneys stop working all of a sudden, it is termed as acute kidney injury or acute renal failure. This can be due to conditions including:
- Direct damage to the kidneys
- Insufficient blood flow in the kidneys
- Urine retention in the kidneys
The causes of these conditions can be:
- A traumatic injury with severe blood loss
- Severe infection in the blood called sepsis
- A dehydrated muscle tissue breaks down, sending too much protein into the bloodstream
- Enlarged prostate that’s blocking the urine flow
- Complications during pregnancy, such as eclampsia (high-blood pressure)
- Autoimmune diseases, wherein one’s own immune system attacks the body
- Certain drugs/ NSAIDs
2. Chronic Kidney Diseases
When the kidneys haven’t functioned normally for more than 3 months, it called chronic kidney disease. The symptoms of chronic kidney disease might not appear until there is almost 80% damage. However, earlier the detection, easier it is to treat.
This condition may require dialysis or kidney transplant.
- Diabetes (types 1 and 2)
- Immune system diseases including Lupus Nephritis
- Long-lasting viral illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C
- Recurrence of Pyelonephritis or a urinary tract infection within the kidneys
- Inflammation in the glomeruli or tiny filters within the kidneys
- Polycystic kidney disease
- Congenital/ by-birth defects
- Certain drugs and toxins
- Swelling in the feet and ankles Itching, dry skin
- Chest pain (fluid builds up around the heart)
- Shortness of breath (fluid build up in the lungs)
- Uncontrolled hypertension/ high blood pressure
- Nausea/ Vomiting
- Low appetite
- Fatigue/ weakness
- Sleep issues
- Changes in urination pattern
- Decreased concentration
- Muscle twitches and cramps
- Coma (in severe cases)
- If the condition is chronic, it means life-long. Your Nephrologist will create a treatment plan that will slow down the progression of damage of the kidneys and keep them functioning
- Firstly, the cause of the damage will be ascertained.
- Your Nephrologist will prescribe you medicines or recommend dialysis if the condition is severe.
- You might need to alter your lifestyle completely and adopt a healthier diet (your Renal Dietician will help you with this)
- You will need to keep check on the two biggest threats: hypertension and diabetes
- Maintain optimal body weight
- Exercise regularly (Your doctor will recommend the pattern)
- Regular check-ups/ investigations are a must.
- You will need to check your urine for protein and glucose levels, detect blood in the urine
- Keep a regular check of your blood pressure levels
- Blood checks including HbA1C and Creatinine