Types of Kidney Diseases: Are you at Risk?

Kidneys are the key to a healthy body since they excrete the body’s waste materials. They are responsible for releasing the toxins stored in our body and also help in regulating the pH, salt, and potassium levels in the body.  A number of diseases cripple this vital pair of organs, and they gradually become damaged. Kidney diseases can result in other problems such as nerve damage, weak bones, and malnutrition. If the kidneys stopped functioning, dialysis would have to be done in order to carry on the normal excretory functions; else one would fail to survive.  Some of the types of Kidney Diseases are as follows:

1. Chronic Kidney Disease

Cause: High Blood Pressure 

Pre-existing conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure can cause kidney health to progressively get worse. This impairs the ability of them to function, and waste gets piled up in your blood.  In diabetes, the increased blood sugar level damages the blood vessels of the kidneys. The waste and toxins are not properly extracted from the blood, and eventually, Kidney Failure occurs when the toxins overload the system.  The high blood pressure increases the pressure on the tiny blood vessels knows as the glomerulus. This is where the blood gets cleaned, so the increased pressure damages the pressure, and in turn, the kidney functions begin to decline.

2. Kidney Stones

Cause: Mineral Crystallisation 

An excess of waste minerals and not enough fluids can lead to the clumping and crystallization of the wastes to form stones within the kidney. Smaller stones generally pass out by way of the ureter, but the larger stones might have to be extracted by means of additional treatment, like lithotripsy or ureteroscopy.  Smaller stones are often harmless, but the larger ones can cause pain during urination, blood in the urine, sharp pain in the back or lower abdomen, etc.   You are at greater risk of getting a kidney stone if any of the following is true:

  •  A personal or familial history of Kidney Stones
  • Dehydration and a habit of drinking less water.
  • Following a diet that is high in Protein, Potassium, or Sugar.
  • Overweight and/or obese people are at higher risk.
  • People with prior Gastric Surgery/ Intestinal Surgery.
  • People taking diuretics or calcium-based antacids.

3. Glomerulonephritis

Cause: Glomerulus Inflammation

A Gomerulus is an extremely small structure in the kidney that removes excess fluid, electrolytes, and waste from the blood and into the urine. Inflammation of the glomeruli from infections (post-streptococcal, bacterial endocarditis), drugs, or congenital abnormalities lead to Glomerulonephritis. It also often occurs as part of immune diseases like Lupus, Goodpasture’s syndrome, or circulatory conditions like vasculitis.

The onset of glomerulonephritis can be sudden (acute) or gradual (chronic). Signs include pink urine (blood in the urine; haematuria), foamy urine ( excess protein; proteinuria), high blood pressure (hypertension),  swelling in the face, hands, feet, abdomen (fluid retention; oedema), etc.

You are at risk if you have:

●        High Blood Pressure.

●        Diabetic Nephropathy

4. Polycystic Kidney Disease

Cause: Fluid-filled sac formation within the kidney 

It is a genetic disorder where fluid-filled sacs, i.e., cysts, grow within the kidney. The kidneys enlarge as a result, and this can lead to kidney failure. Complications of this disease include dangerously high blood pressure, haematuria, aortic aneurysms, etc.  There are two major forms, the Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (Type 1 and Type 2) and the Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease. 

5. Urinary Tract Infections

Cause: Bacterial Infection in any part of the Excretory System 

The kidneys, ureter, bladder, and urethra together form the Urinary System. Bacterial infections of any part of the Urinary Tract, from the kidneys up to the urethra is known as Urinary Tract Infection (UTIs). Infections along this tract lead to pain and irritation, irregular urination, and urine volume and character; but they are easily treatable. If left untreated, the infection spreads up to the Kidney and may lead to Kidney Failure.  The symptoms of developing Kidney Disease are easy to catch. These include:

●        Fatigue

●        Difficulty in Concentrating

●        Sleeping troubles

●        Poor appetite

●        Muscle Cramps

●        Swollen Feet/ ankles

●        Puffiness around eyes in the morning

●        Skin that is dry to touch and/or scaly

●        Frequent Urination, especially late night

Upon identifying these symptoms, you should definitely pay your doctor a visit. Early identification helps in the proper treatment of a large number of kidney troubles. At-risk individuals need to keep a check on their diet and fluid intake to stay safe and healthy.