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Kidney Stones

What you can do right now to protect your kidney

The kidneys are an essential part of your body that remove waste from your blood and help regulate its concentration. If you have kidney disease, you may not be aware that the condition can potentially lead to long-term problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, fluid retention, heart failure and even death.

According to chronic kidney disease (CKD), also known as chronic renal disease, is a condition characterized by a gradual loss of kidney function overtime.

Symptoms develop slowly and in advanced stages include anorexia, nausea, vomiting, stomatitis, dysgeusia, nocturia, lassitude, fatigue, pruritus, decreased mental acuity, muscle twitches and cramps, water retention, undernutrition, and seizures.

Kidney disease and its symptoms are rarely understood by the majority. While they may not seem like a severe problem, kidney disease can cause you to miss out on your youth, can affect quality of life, and is just as deadly as heart attacks or stroke.

In this article, we are going to take a look at the causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment of the Kidney disease.

Kidney stones
Kidney stones – Photo by brgfx

Causes of the kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease may result from any cause of renal dysfunction of sufficient magnitude. The most common cause of chronic kidney disease are;

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • High blood pressure
  • Glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the kidney filtering units [glomeruli])
  • Interstitial nephritis (inflammation of the kidney tubules and surrounding structures
  • Polycystic kidney disease or other inherited kidney diseases
  • Prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract, from conditions such as enlarged prostate, kidney stones and some cancers
  • Vesicoureteral reflux (a condition that cause urine to back up into the kidneys)
  • Recurrent kidney infection

Symptoms of the Kidney disease

Patients with mildly diminished renal reserve don’t show any symptoms. Even patients with mild to moderate renal insufficiency may have no symptoms despite elevated blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine.

Though most of the people don’t show any symptoms but loss of kidney function can cause;

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Sleep problems
  • Urinating more or less
  • Decreased mental sharpness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Swelling of feet and ankles
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
Symptoms of the kidney stones
Photo by brgfx

Signs and symptoms of kidney disease are often nonspecific. This means they can also be caused by other illnesses. Because the kidneys are able to make up for lost function, you might not develop signs and symptoms until irreversible damage has occurred.

Talk to your doctor about getting tested if you have the above signs of kidney disease.

Risk factors associated with Kidney disease

Below are factors that may put one in a higher risk of getting Kidney disease. These factors are listed in no particular order.

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Family history of chronic kidney disease
  • Obesity
  • Obesity
  • Old age
  • Abnormal kidney structure
  • Frequent use of medication that can damage the kidneys

Complications of the disease

Since the kidneys play a big role in affecting our overall health. If the kidneys don’t work well enough it can complicate other parts of our bodies.

The following are some complications of kidney disease;

  • Anemia
  • Heart disease
  • Fluid retention. Occurs when your body retains excess fluids which could lead to swelling of the limbs(edema), hypertension, or fluid in the lung
  • Gout
  • Bone weakness
  • Hyperkalemia. This is a sudden rise in potassium levels that may affect heart function
  • Metabolic acidosis. This happens when there is too much acid in your bodily fluids that your kidneys don’t filter out, it disturbs the pH balance.
  • Uremia. This is a buildup of waste products in the blood, signaling kidney damage
  • Decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction or reduced fertility
  • Damage to your central nervous system, which can cause difficulty concentrating, personality changes or seizures
  • Decreased immune response
  • Pericarditis. This is an inflammation of the saclike membrane that envelops your heart (pericardium)
  • Pregnancy complications that carry risk for mother and developing fetus
  • Irreversible damage to your kidneys (end stage kidney disease), eventually requiring either dialysis or a kidney transplant for survival
Diagram of the human kidney
Photo by channarongsds

Prevention of the disease

We believe until now you may have noticed how important the Kidney is and why you should always try to keep your kidneys healthy.

The following will help you to reduce the risk of getting chronic kidney disease;

  • Physical exercise, this will help you to maintain healthy weight also it helps in burning out excess fat in your body
  • Eat healthy diet
  • Avoid smoking. Cigarette smoking can damage your kidneys
  • Treat any underlying condition. If you have any medical condition which can affect your kidney function such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and heart (cardiovascular) disease. Be sure to treat these conditions and talk to your doctor to get tested for your kidney function
  • Follow the instructions of any medication you take. When using nonprescription pain killers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen, make sure to follow the instruction on the package. Taking too many pain killers for a long time could lead to kidney damage

How to treat it

  • Control of underlying disorders, underlying disorders and contributory factors must be controlled. In particular, controlling hyperglycemia if you have  diabetic nephropathy and controlling high blood pressure if you your glomerular filtration rate is decreasing
  • Avoid taking too much dietary protein, phosphate, and potassium. Severe protein restriction in kidney disease is not good, however moderate protein restriction is safe and easy to tolerate
  • Vitamin D supplements
  • Treat anemia
  • Treat any contributing comorbidities (eg, heart failure, diabetes, nephrolithiasis, prostatic hypertrophy)
  • Avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) if your diagnosed with chronic kidney disease because these drugs may worsen renal function, which may lead to hypertension and disturbing electrolyte balances
  • Dialysis is for severely decreased glomerular filtration rate. Dialysis is usually initiated at the onset of either Uremic symptoms (eg, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, pericarditis, pleuritis) or difficulty controlling fluid overload, hyperkalemia, or acidosis with drugs and lifestyle interventions
  • Maintaining sodium bicarbonate level in the normal range 23-29mmol/L
  • Transplantation. If a living kidney donor is available, better long-term outcomes occur when a patient receives the transplanted kidney early, even before beginning dialysis.

Parting thoughts

Since more than twenty percent of the population faces kidney disease at some point, it is in your best interest to educate yourself on how to guard against this condition.

While diet and exercise won’t always ward off kidney stones or high blood pressure, there are steps you can take to reduce the chances that you will develop this illness.

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