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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.

Other Causes

  • Diabetes (types 1 and 2)
  • Hypertension
  • 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
  • Confusion
  • 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

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