The kidneys fulfill the crucial role of removing waste products and excess fluid from the blood and removing them from the body. Various diseases can compromise kidney function and impact overall health. Knowing about common kidney conditions and their causes can help you better care for these vital organs.
1. Kidney Stones
When your urine becomes concentrated, crystals may form, which are called kidney stones. Kidney stones can develop with the use of certain medications and supplements or in people with diets high in oxalates, protein, or vitamin D.Infections can also cause an inflammatory response that may predispose you to kidney stone formation. Other risk factors include excess body weight and medical conditions that affect your metabolism.
2. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
The urinary tract has multiple defense systems to prevent an invasion of pathogens like bacteria or viruses. Regular urination can flush away germs before they can reach the bladder.However, like all other organ systems, the urinary tract can still be taken over by pathogens and become infected.
Urinary tract infections start when germs reach the bladder and multiply. They can travel up the ureters and infect the kidneys in some instances. Some common symptoms of infections that have reached the kidneys include painful urination and systemic effects like fever.
The germs that cause kidney infections are ubiquitous. That’s why this condition usually occurs when bodily defenses are overwhelmed. Dehydration can reduce the frequency of urination, giving pathogens more time to invade the urinary system.
3. Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)
Polycystic kidney disease occurs when multiple cysts develop within the kidneys. They vary in size, tend to contain fluid and are not cancerous. However, they tend to interfere with normal kidney function.In severe cases, poly cystic kidney disease can cause significant kidney enlargement, combined with a decrease in the kidneys’ ability to filter wastes.
Symptoms of PKD include:
- Pain that emanates from your sides or back
- Bleeding during urination
- High blood pressure
Polycystic kidney disease can increase your risk for kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and other related conditions.
PKD primarily results from genetics and comes in two forms, depending on whether the responsible defective gene is:
- Dominant –the more common condition that usually manifests during adulthood
- Recessive –which can cause symptoms to appear during childhood, sometimes even as soon as shortly after birth
4. Diabetic Kidney Disease
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder involving high amounts of blood glucose (sugar) levels. When glucose accumulates in the blood, the inner lining of your blood vessels can eventually become damaged.Affected blood vessels, especially capillaries, cannot support adequate blood flow to bodily tissues. The kidneys may become damaged because they rely on a stable blood supply to keep working.
Each filtering unit of the kidneys contains a tight bundle of small blood vessels called a glomerulus. Poorly controlled diabetes can damage these blood vessels, compromising the kidneys’ filtering ability.The risk of diabetic kidney disease increases the longer you have diabetes.
Additional factors can hasten the progression of diabetic kidney disease, including:
- Being inactive
- Having excess weight
- Too much salt
Fortunately, diabetic kidney disease takes a while to develop. Recognizing and treating its root cause can help you avoid permanent damage to the kidneys.
5. End-Stage Kidney Disease
End-stage kidney disease occurs when your kidneys are too weak to filter out waste products from your blood. Since healthy kidneys have extra filtration capacity, this condition represents an advanced state of damage to the organs.
Chronic kidney disease can have no obvious symptoms. But end-stage disease usually causes debilitating effects related to the accumulation of waste products in the blood, such as:
- Fluid accumulation in your limbs
- High blood pressure
- Skin itching
- Muscle cramps
Difficulty breathing can also occur if fluid buildup occurs in the lungs.
Patients with end-stage kidney disease require regular dialysis to stay alive. A kidney transplant is also a viable option.
Any chronic condition that causes kidney damage, including most of the previously mentioned diseases, can lead to end-stage kidney disease. That’s why early detection of disease and its management are crucial to keeping your kidneys in good shape.
Trusted Nephrologist in Marlborough, MA
Despite the significant impact of various kidney diseases, there are many ways to protect the kidneys from becoming damaged. Working closely with kidney specialists (nephrologists) can help you adhere to treatment plans designed to keep your organs healthy.
You don’t need to worry when trying to find a trusted nephrologist in Marlborough, Massachusetts. Commonwealth Nephrology Associates provides proactive kidney care at our main facilities and satellite offices throughout Massachusetts. Learn more by calling us at (617) 739-2100. You may also use our online appointment form to book a consultation with the best kidney doctor near you.