Your kidneys are a vital part of your anatomy. They are the bean-shaped organs located under your ribcage toward your back that have several functions, the most important of which is helping your body eliminate toxins by filtering your blood and sending waste products out of your body via urination.
If your kidneys don’t work correctly, waste products can build up in your body, making you ill and endangering your health. Renal (kidney) failure is one of the most serious and life-threatening medical conditions and requires continuous dialysis or a kidney transplant.
The most common causes of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and subsequent kidney failure include:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure), which, if uncontrolled, can damage blood vessels.
- Diabetes (high blood sugar levels), which, if not managed well, can damage blood vessels in the kidneys and lead to kidney failure.
- Chronic glomerulonephritis, inflammation of the part of your kidneys that filter blood.
In addition to these common kidney-related conditions, there are other factors that can lead to kidney damage and CKD, such as polycystic kidney disease, obstructions caused by kidney stones, rheumatological disease, a blocked renal artery, or long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
3 Rare Causes of Kidney Failure
There are also several unusual causes of kidney failure you should also be aware of. These include:
- Atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS) –This extremely rare genetic disease causes tiny blood clots to form in the blood vessels, blocking blood flow to important organs. In addition to kidney failure, aHUS can lead to heart disease and other serious health problems.
- C3 glomerulopathy (C3G) and C3 glomerulonephritis (C3GN) –Each of these diseases is caused by genetic or acquired problems in controlling your body’s complement system, which is designed to help fight infections.
- Membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis type 1 and 3 –This kidney disorder involves inflammation and changes to kidney cells. It is an uncommon cause of chronic nephritis that occurs primarily in children and young adults.
Anyone can be susceptible to CKD, but you may be at a higher risk if you are diabetic, have high blood pressure or heart disease, have a family history of kidney disease, are over 60 years of age, are black, Hispanic, or native American, or have an extensive history of taking pain relievers, including over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
The good news is that kidney disease can be detected and diagnosed early and effectively managed by a qualified nephrologist (a specialist in the care of kidneys). You should see a nephrologist if:
- You have a biological family history of kidney disease.
- You have been diagnosed with diabetes and/or hypertension.
- You notice changes in your urine or urination habits, such as urinating more or less oftenthan usual and having frothy or darker color urine.
- You experience impaired thinking. Confusion, forgetfulness, or the inability to focus may be symptoms of kidney disease.
Nephrologist in Attleboro, Massachusetts
Whatever the condition of your kidneys, the sooner you act to protect them, the better you can avoid disease and improve your general health.
At Commonwealth Nephrology Associates, our board-certified and fellowship trained physicians are specialists in the evaluation and treatment of both common and complex CKD. The sooner it is detected and treated, the greater your chances of slowing its progression, avoiding symptoms, extending your longevity, and improving the overall quality of your life.
To learn more about our life-affirming services and specialties, schedule a visit today with one of our kidney doctors by calling (617) 739-2100 or Request and Appointment online. We have seven conveniently located offices in the Boston area to provide you with exceptional care.