Your kidneys remove about two quarts (1.9 litres) of waste products and excess fluid each day. When you have a kidney disease your kidneys are unable to purify your blood effectively. This condition may be acute – happening suddenly – or chronic, occurring progressively over time. Symptoms of kidney disease include nausea and vomiting, swelling, seizures, and heart problems, among many others.
There are many different causes and types of kidney disease with varying symptoms. Here’s an overview of some of the most common forms of the disease:
Diabetic Kidney Disease or Diabetic Nephropathy
Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease. In diabetic kidney disease, high levels of glucose in the blood damage the nephrons – the filtering units in the kidneys. The most effective ways to control or prevent this form of kidney disease is to maintain healthy levels of blood glucose. Effectively treating high blood pressure can also prevent kidney disease, or slow its progression.
Polycystic kidney disease
This is an inherited or congenital type of kidney disease. It causes several cysts to form inside the kidneys. In some cases PKD may not cause chronic kidney disease, but in other cases the cysts take over the rest of the kidney and deplete kidney function.
The most common form of polycystic kidney disease is autosomal dominant, which means that one parent has the gene in the family, and there’s a 50 percent chance that each child will get the disease. In some cases, a person with this disease may have no symptoms at all, while others may experience symptoms starting in their 30s or 40s.
In some cases, kidney problems from these diseases may be detectable in the womb. The most common symptoms in childhood include slow growth, vomiting and back or side pain. Other telling symptoms include high blood pressure, anemia and protein or blood in the urine. Imaging technology is also increasingly used to detect cysts in children and teens.
This type of kidney disease is cause by an infection, in most cases bacterial. While there can be many causes of pyelonephritis, the most likely cause is an obstruction of urine flow. The blockage may be in the ureters, which connects the kidney to the bladder, a kidney stone, scarring in the ureters, a blockage in the bladder, or a tumour.
If this disease is caused by recurring infections, over time the bacteria may become resistant to medications and allow the symptoms to return. It’s essential to take the full course of antibiotics to effectively eliminate the infection.
There are several types of kidney diseases in this category such as autoimmune diseases, infection-related and sclerotic diseases. They damage the glomeruli, which are tiny blood vessels inside the nephrons.
Some of the specific diseases under this category include diabetic nephropathy, systemic lupus erythematosus, Alport’s syndrome, and IgA nephropathy. General infections in the body that cause kidney disease also fall under this category, including HIV and bacterial endocarditis.
Primary symptoms of these kidney diseases are proteinuria or high levels of protein in the blood, and hematuria – blood in the urine.
This disease is characterized by the kidneys being unable to conserve water as they filter waste products and excess fluid from the blood. It may be caused by a deficiency of the antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which is also called vasopressin.
Or, it can also occur if you’re born without the necessary biochemical receptors in the kidney to respond to ADH. In this case, it’s referred to as nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. Both conditiona are treatable.
There is also central diabetes insipidus, which may be caused by damage to brain structures – the pituitary gland or hypothalamus. Possible reasons for the brain damage may be a head injury, infection, surgery or a tumour.
Other Causes of Kidney Disease
Acute kidney diseases are usually brought on by an injury that causes massive blood loss, or by ingesting a poison, or certain types of medication. Long-term use of painkillers is another possible cause of kidney disease. If you’re taking these medications for chronic pain you should have your kidneys tested regularly.
Some forms of glomerular diseases may also cause rapid loss of kidney function, such as post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (PSGN), which might develop after a bout of strep throat or impetigo, a skin infection.
Regardless of the type of kidney disease you have, it’s essential that you seek immediate treatment to reduce the damage to your organs and avoid severe complications such as cardiovascular disease, coma or death. If you do not like the idea of taking pharmaceutical medication, which as shown can actually contribute to kidney damage over time, you will be happy to know that many studies have shown that natural therapies can be effective in both preventing and reversing kidney damage. When taken with the appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes, herbs and nutrients can lead to a huge improvement in kidney function and well being.