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What are kidneys?

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs in the renal system. They help the body pass waste as urine. They also help filter blood before sending it back to the heart.

The kidneys perform many crucial functions, including:

  • maintaining overall fluid balance
  • regulating and filtering minerals from blood
  • filtering waste materials from food, medications, and toxic substances
  • creating hormones that help produce red blood cells, promote bone health, and regulate blood pressure
  • The kidneys even activate a form of vitamin D that helps the body absorb calcium.

What is kidney disease?

Kidney disease occurs when your kidneys become damaged and cant perform their function. Damage may be caused by bacteria infection, diabetes, high blood pressure, and various other chronic (long-term) conditions. Kidney disease can lead to other health problems, including weak bones, nerve damage, and malnutrition.

If the disease gets worse over time, your kidneys may stop working completely. This means that dialysis will be required to perform the function of the kidneys. Dialysis is a treatment that filters and purifies the blood using a machine. It cant cure kidney disease, but it can prolong your life.

What are the types and causes of kidney disease?

Chronic kidney disease

The most common form of kidney disease is chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease is a long-term condition that doesnt improve over time. Its commonly caused by different bacterial infections, which cause high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is dangerous for the kidneys because it can increase the pressure on the glomeruli. Glomeruli are the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys where blood is cleaned. Over time, the increased pressure damages these vessels and kidney function begins to decline. Kidney function will eventually deteriorate to the point where the kidneys can no longer perform their job properly.

Diabetes is also a major cause of chronic kidney disease. Diabetes is a group of diseases that causes high blood sugar. The increased level of sugar in the blood damages the blood vessels in the kidneys over time. This means the kidneys cant clean the blood properly. Kidney failure can occur when your body becomes overloaded with toxins.

Kidney stones

Kidney stones are another common kidney problem. They occur when minerals and other substances in the blood crystallize in the kidneys, forming solid masses (stones). Kidney stones usually come out of the body during urination. Passing kidney stones can be extremely painful, but they rarely cause significant problems.

Glomerulonephritis

Glomerulonephritis is an inflammation of the glomeruli. Glomeruli are extremely small structures inside the kidneys that filter the blood. Glomerulonephritis can be caused by urinary tract infections, like gonococci ( cause gonorrhea) , staphylococci and ect. , drugs, or congenital abnormalities (disorders that occur during or shortly after birth). It often gets better on its own.

Polycystic kidney disease

Polycystic kidney disease is a disorder that causes numerous cysts (small sacs of fluid) to grow in the kidneys. These cysts can interfere with kidney function and cause kidney failure. (Its important to note that individual kidney cysts are fairly common and almost always harmless. Polycystic kidney disease is a separate, more serious condition.)

Urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are bacterial infections of any part of the urinary system. Infections in the bladder and urethra are the most common. They are easily treatable and rarely lead to more health problems. However, if left untreated, these infections can spread to the kidneys and cause kidney failure.

What are the symptoms of kidney disease?

Kidney disease is a condition that can easily go unnoticed until the symptoms become severe.

The following symptoms are early warning signs that you might be developing kidney disease:

  • Back pain
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue or general body pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pus or blood in your urine (hematuria)
  • Urine that smells bad or is cloudy
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Poor appetite
  • Swollen legs, feet/ankles
  • Puffiness around the eyes in the morning
  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Burning sensation

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have worrisome signs or symptoms. If you're being treated for a urinary tract infection but your signs and symptoms aren't improving, make an appointment.

Seek immediate medical attention if you have kidney infection symptoms combined with bloody urine or nausea and vomiting.

What are the risk factors for developing kidney disease?

You may also be more likely to get kidney disease if you:

  • Being female: The urethra is shorter in women than it is in men, which makes it easier for bacteria to travel from outside the body to the bladder. The nearness of the urethra to the vagina and anus also creates more opportunities for bacteria to enter the bladder.
    Once in the bladder, an infection can spread to the kidneys. Pregnant women are at even higher risk of a kidney infection.
  • Having a urinary tract blockage: This includes kidney stone, enlargement of prostate in men, present of uterine fibroids or ovarian cysts, pregnancy in women.
  • Having a weakened immune system: This includes medical conditions that impair your immune system, such as diabetes and HIV. Certain medications, such as drugs taken to prevent rejection of transplanted organs, have a similar effect.
  • Having damage to nerves around the bladder: Nerve or spinal cord damage can block the sensations of a bladder infection so that you're unaware when it's advancing to a kidney infection.
  • Using a urinary catheter for a time: Urinary catheters are tubes used to drain urine from the bladder. You might have a catheter placed during and after some surgical procedures and diagnostic tests, or you have prostate enlargement.
  • Having a condition that causes urine retention: In vesicoureteral reflux, small amounts of urine flow from your bladder back up into your ureters and kidneys. People with this condition are at higher risk of kidney infection.

How is kidney disease diagnosed?

To confirm that you have a kidney disease sample of your urine will be tested for bacteria, or blood or pus in your urine. Our doctor's might also take a blood sample for a culture lab test that checks for bacteria or other organisms in your blood.

The following tests may be needed which include:

Glomerular filtration rate (GFR): This test will measure how well your kidneys are working and determine the stage of kidney disease. It is depend of your race, age and gender.

Ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) Scan: Ultrasounds and CT scans produce clear images of your kidneys and urinary tract. The pictures allow your doctor to see your kidneys size, location, presents of kidney stones, kidney cysts or tumors or structural problems.

Urine test: Your doctor may request a urine sample to test for albumin. Albumin is a protein that can be passed into your urine when your kidneys are damaged, present of pathology bacteria, crystals, and other substances, which characterise digestive system function.

Blood creatinine test: Creatinine is a waste product that comes from the normal wear and tear on muscles of the body. Everyone has creatinine in their bloodstream.

Can my healthcare provider know if my kidneys are working properly by looking at how much creatinine is in my blood?

No. Looking at how much creatinine is in your blood is not the best way to check your kidney health.Thats because the level of creatinine in your blood is affected by your age, race, gender, and body size. (In other words, whats considered normal depends on these factors.)The best way to know if your kidneys are working properly is by looking at your glomerular filtration rate (GFR).

GFR is a routine lab that can be found on your blood work report.GFR is a calculation that includes your creatinine, along with your age, gender, race, and weight.Your GFR number will help your healthcare provider know if you have kidney disease.

You may have kidney disease if your GFR number is:

  • Below 60 for three months
  • Above 60 with signs of kidney damage (having protein in the urine is a sign of kidney damage)

Are there any instances when creatinine alone can be used to determine kidney function?

This is an important question.There is a difference between looking at creatinine in your bloodstream (called serum creatinine) and looking at creatinine in your urine (called creatinine clearance).These are two different lab tests.Serum creatinine is part of a routine lab report; creatinine clearance is not.

Creatinine clearance requires a timed urine sample.All the urine you have passed within a specific time period usually 24-hours is saved (collected) in a container and tested.The result shows how much creatinine has passed through your kidneys into your urine.It helps show how well your kidneys are removing the waste products from your blood.

How is kidney disease treated?

Treatment for kidney disease usually focuses on controlling the underlying cause of the disease. This means our doctor's will help you better manage your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. They may use one or more of the following methods to treat kidney disease.

Medical management

In our medical centre we use Antibacterial and antifungal herbal product with a combination of our Renal tea as the first line of treatment for kidney disease and duration depend on your kidney health and presents of pathological bacteria which found in your urine tests.

Dialysis

Dialysis is a part of treatment for kidney failure. There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Hemodialysis uses a machine to clean your blood. This type of dialysis can be done at a dialysis center or in a clean room in your home. Hemodialysis that is done in a dialysis center is called in-center hemodialysis, and it is the most common treatment for kidney failure. Peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of your abdomen (belly area), called your peritoneum, as a filter to clean your blood. This type of dialysis can be done anywhere that is clean and dry.

Kidney transplant

A kidney transplant is a surgery to give you a healthy kidney from someone else's body. Your new kidney can come from someone who is alive or someone who has just died. A kidney that comes from someone who has just died is called a deceased donor kidney. A living donor kidney is one that comes from someone who is still alive. There is a very long waiting list for deceased donor kidneys in the all countries, and there are not enough deceased donor kidneys for everyone to get one. If you have a living kidney donor who wants to give you a healthy kidney, you may be able to have your kidney transplant sooner.

What is the long-term outlook for someone with kidney disease?

Kidney disease normally does not go away once after its diagnosed. The best way to maintain kidney health is to adopt a healthy lifestyle and follow our doctors advice.

How can kidney disease be prevented?

Some risk factors for kidney disease such as frequent and non treated UTI ( urinary tract infection), enlargement of prostate, present of uterine fibroids, hypertension, cardio-vascular diseases, vein thrombosis, diabetes, high uric acid and stomach ulcer. However, follow our doctor`s advice to help prevent kidney disease:

Avoid extra salt

Eating a lot of salty foods can disrupt the balance of minerals in the blood. This can make it harder for the kidneys to work properly. Try swapping out processed foods which usually have a lot of added salt.

Exercise

High blood pressure is a known risk factor for chronic kidney disease. Regular exercise, even for just 20 minutes a day, can help reduce blood pressure.

Stay hydrated

Drinking 3-5 litters of water daily helps the kidneys perform one of their most important functions: removing toxins.

Use medications with caution

Regularly taking certain over-the-counter medications, such as pain-killers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can cause kidney damage over time. Occasionally taking them is fine, but work with your doctor to find alternatives if you have a condition that requires managing pain.

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