Q. Whats Kidney Disease?
A. The kidneys, two fist-sized organs located on either side of the spine just above the waist, perform a life-sustaining role. They cleanse the blood by removing waste and excess fluids, maintain a healthful balance of various body chemicals, and help regulate blood pressure.
When the kidneys become diseased or damaged, they can suddenly or gradually lose their ability to perform these vital functions. Waste products and excess fluid then build up inside the body, causing a variety of symptoms, particularly swelling of the hands and feet, shortness of breath, and a frequent urge to urinate. If left untreated, diseased kidneys may eventually stop functioning. Loss of kidney function is a very serious and potentially fatal condition.
Kidney, or renal, disease is classified as either acute (when loss of function occurs suddenly) or chronic (when deterioration takes place gradually, perhaps over a period of years). The chronic form can be particularly insidious: it may not show any symptoms until considerable, often irreparable damage has been done.
What Causes It?
The causes of chronic kidney disease are often difficult to pinpoint. Most are the result of another disease or condition, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or atherosclerosis - all of which impede the flow of blood inside the kidneys. Lupus and other diseases of the immune system that affect blood vessels may also trigger kidney disease by causing the kidneys to become inflamed.
Some chronic kidney diseases, most notably polycystic kidney disease (in which cysts form on the kidneys), are inherited. Others are congenital - the result of some sort of urinary tract obstruction or malformation that the person was born with and that predisposes them to kidney infections and diseases.
Chronic kidney disease may also result from long-term exposure to toxic chemicals or to drugs, including certain illegal drugs, such as heroin. Overuse of NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen) can lead to chronic renal disease. Researchers also suspect that excessive amounts of vitamin D and protein, particularly in the diets of the elderly or the very ill, may harm the kidneys. But in many chronic cases, the precise cause remains unknown.
Acute kidney disease can occur within a matter of days following the onset of any medical condition that suddenly and dramatically reduces the flow of blood to the kidneys. Examples are a heart attack, a traumatic injury such as one sustained in an automobile accident, a serious infection, or a toxic reaction to a drug.
Inhaling or swallowing certain toxins, including methyl (wood) alcohol; carbon tetrachloride; antifreeze; and poisonous mushrooms, can also cause the kidneys to suddenly malfunction. Marathon runners and other endurance athletes who do not drink enough liquids while competing in long-distance athletic events may suffer acute kidney failure due to a sudden breakdown of muscle tissue, which releases a chemical called myoglobin that can damage the kidneys.
Any personal health questions? Please consult your physician !
Wishing You Great Health,
Glen Edward Mitchell
Got a question? Ask Glen!