Avoiding Kidney Disease is Crucial to Long Term Health
Appearing in patients both acutely and chronically, kidney disease can have a major impact on someone's daily life. Kidney disease can affect many different bodily functions including the body's ability to clean blood and control blood pressure. Bone health can even take a hit from the lack of vitamin D being processed through the body by the kidneys. Healthy kidneys keep the right amount of water and minerals within the bloodstream, as well as release specific proteins needed for red blood cell creation. Kidney disease can affect one or both kidneys. If treatment is sought early on, it can prevent the kidneys from incurring further damage or at least prevent them from shutting down altogether. When the kidneys completely stop working, this is known as kidney failure.
Common Causes of Kidney Disease
To find the cause of a patient's kidney disease, a physician will have to determine whether their condition is acute or chronic. Acute kidney disease occurs when the kidneys suddenly stop functioning properly, while chronic kidney disease is when the symptoms have lasted for at least three months. Some causes of acute kidney disease include:
- Enlarged prostate
- Medication or Toxins
- Pregnancy complications like preeclampsia
- Injury involving the kidneys or general blood loss
- Liver or heart failure
- Autoimmune diseases
Causes of chronic kidney disease include:
- High Blood Pressure
- Diabetes (both Type 1 and 2)
- Inflammation of the glomeruli (after a strep infection)
- A urinary tract infection that spreads to the kidneys called pyelonephritis
- Hepatitis B and C
Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Disease
It's important to note that many of these symptoms can also apply to other conditions as well, so it's vital to speak to a physician. Unfortunately, many patients don't notice symptoms until their kidney disease has advanced. Some symptoms of kidney disease can include:
- Loss of Appetite
- Trouble sleeping or changes in sleep pattern
- Intense or persistent itching on the body
- Chest pain or shortness of breath
- Urinary frequency issues or changes
- Muscle cramping or twitching
- Swelling of the ankles or feet
- High blood pressure
- Metallic taste in mouth
- Decrease in sex drive
Preventing and Treating Kidney Disease
Thankfully, there are many ways to prevent kidney disease. While some risk factors like race or age are unavoidable, there are many lifestyle changes that can be made. Some of these changes include:
- Losing weight
- Quitting smoking
- Controlling diabetes
- Lowering blood pressure through exercise or medication
- Better eating habits
- Taking over the counter pain relievers as directed
Doctors typically treat early stage kidney disease by treating the cause of the disease. For example, if a patient's high blood pressure is causing the kidney disease, they will be given high blood pressure medication to prevent any more damage to the kidneys. Some patients may also be treated with anemia medications and anti-swelling medications.
If a patient's kidney disease is end-stage, the physician will typically either opt for dialysis or a kidney transplant. Dialysis removes waste and excess fluid from a patient's kidneys because the kidneys can no longer do so. This can either be done through a patient's abdomen or their blood. A kidney transplant occurs when one kidney from a healthy donor is used to replace the unhealthy or non functional kidney in the recipient.
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