Our kidneys are very important organs that are stationed toward the lower part of our backs. They play a major role in several stages of our body metabolism. This is why when they fail it is mostly fatal. Therefore, it wise you know kidney disease symptoms
It is very important to know about kidney disease symptoms. The earlier you notice these symptoms and begin to take treatment, the better. In this post, we will show you the symptoms and causes of kidney disease.
Defining Kidney Failure
Before we even begin discussing kidney disease symptoms, it is imperative that you know what kidney failure is. You have two kidneys, one located on each side of the spine towards the lower back. They perform several functions including detoxifying the body and filtering the blood. The toxins move to your bladder from the kidneys and from here leave the body through urination.
In layman language, we say a person has kidney failure when the kidneys cannot perform its regular functions optimally. This means it can no longer remove waste or toxins from the blood as it should. There are a couple of factors that influence kidney health, they include:
- Kidney trauma
- Severe dehydration
- Certain chronic and acute diseases
- Exposure to certain medications and toxic environmental pollutants
When the kidney fails and is left untreated, the result is an overload of toxins in the bloodstream. This is not healthy for the body and can be fatal in the end.
Symptoms of Kidney Failure
In order to treat kidney disease, it is important that you notice the kidney disease symptoms very early. However, it is not in every case that the symptoms are evident. Here is a list of the possible symptoms:
- Reduced amount of urine
- Unexplained shortness in breath
- Persistent nausea
- Swelling in the ankles, legs, and feet. This is a result of the body retaining water that the kidneys have failed to expel.
- Pressure or pain in the chest
Early Signs of Kidney Disease
At the early stages, it is very difficult to notice kidney failure. This is because the symptoms are quite subtle and difficult to identify. Some of the symptoms to look out for include:
- Reduced output of urine
- Shortness of breath
- Fluid retention which leads to swollen limbs
Causes of Kidney Failure
Now that you know the symptoms, you are probably wondering what the causes of kidney disease are. Several conditions can lead to kidney failure. Usually, the cause will determine the type of kidney disease. Here are a few causes below:
Shortage of blood supply to the kidneys
When the amount of blood flow to the kidneys is in very short supply, it can lead to failure. Sometimes, there is even no blood flow to this area at all. What can cause this? Check out some reasons below:
- Heart attack
- Heart disease
- Severe infections like sepsis
- Severe burn
- Liver failure
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- High blood pressure
Problems Related to Urine Expulsion
The moment the body is not able to expel urine from the body, toxins begin to build up. As a result, the kidneys become overloaded and overwhelmed. The major causes of this are cancers that block the urinary tract, some of them include:
- Prostate (most common in men)
There are several other conditions that can hinder urination and may lead to kidney disease such as:
- Damage to the nerves that control the bladder
- Blood clots present in the urinary tract
- Enlarged prostate
- Kidney stones
Here are some other conditions that can lead to kidney disease:
- Blood clots around or within the kidneys
- Toxins from heavy metals
- Alcohol or drugs
- Inflammation in the blood vessels also known as vasculitis
- Lupus (an autoimmune disease which may cause inflammation in body organs)
- Glomerulonephritis (this is the inflammation of the small blood vessels present in the kidneys)
- Certain antibiotics
- Dyes used to facilitate some imaging tests
- Chemotherapy drugs for the treatment of some autoimmune diseases and cancer
- Scleroderma (an autoimmune condition known to affect the skin)
- Multiple myelomas (this is cancer that affects the plasma cells present in the bone marrow)
- Hemolytic uremic syndrome (this involves the breakdown of the red blood cells, mostly those present in the intestines. It is a result of bacterial infection)
- Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (this is a disorder that causes small vessels to experience blood clots)
Types of Kidney Failure
Knowing the causes and symptoms of kidney disease is not enough. You need to know the different types of kidney failure. Currently, there are five types of kidney failure and we will discuss them in the next few paragraphs:
Acute prerenal kidney failure
This is a result of poor blood supply to the kidneys. Without sufficient blood flow, it is impossible for the kidneys to filter toxins. This type of kidney failure is easily cured once the cause of the reduced blood supply is found and cured.
Acute intrinsic kidney failure
This condition is a result of direct trauma to a person’s kidneys. Such trauma could be from an accident or physical impact. Other causes of this condition include ischemia and toxin overload. Ischemia is a poor supply of oxygen to the kidneys. Some of the causes of ischemia include:
- Severe bleeding
- Obstruction in the renal blood vessels
Chronic Prerenal Kidney Failure
This occurs when the blood flow to the kidneys lasts for a long period. As a result, the kidneys start to shrink and consequently lose their ability to function.
Chronic intrinsic kidney failure
This occurs when the damage to the kidneys from intrinsic kidney disease lasts for a long period. Like we mentioned above, intrinsic kidney disease is a result of trauma, lack of oxygen, or severe bleeding.
Chronic post-renal kidney failure
When the urinary tract is blocked for a while, it hinders urination. This results in pressure on the kidneys from toxins. The final result of this is kidney damage.
Kidney Failure Test
Once you notice kidney disease symptoms, it is imperative that you visit your physician. Your doctor will then conduct certain tests for the purpose of diagnosis. Some of these tests include:
In this case, a urine sample is taken for testing purposes. Some of the abnormalities to be checked include sugar spilling into the urine and abnormal protein content. There is also a test to check for urinary sediment. In this test, the amount of white and red blood cells is measured. The doctor will also check for high levels of bacteria and cellular casts.
Urine Volume Measurements
This is one of the easiest tests to diagnose kidney disease. A typical example is that when the urinary output is low, it is probably caused by a blockage in the urinary tract. This is possibly a result of certain injuries or illnesses.
This is necessary to check for substances which may be filtered by your kidneys. Some of these substances include creatinine (Cr) and blood urea nitrogen (BUN). When a quick rise in these levels is noticed, it indicates acute kidney failure.
Some of the tests here include CT Scans, MRIs, and ultrasounds. They help to see the exact state of the kidneys and urinary tract.
Kidney Failure Treatment
It is imperative that after noticing kidney disease symptoms and carrying out the tests for diagnosis, treatment begins. There are several ways to treat kidney disease. The treatment method will depend on the cause of the disease in the first place.
Some of the kidney failure treatment methods include:
In this case, a machine is used to carry out the functions of the kidney. Thus, the blood is purified and filtered using the dialysis machine. Sometimes, you have to be connected to the huge machine while in some cases, it is only a portable catheter bag.
Along with dialysis, you may have to follow a low-salt and low-potassium diet. You should note that dialysis is not a cure for kidney disease. It will only help in extending life and that is if you attend your appointments frequently.
With a kidney transplant, the new kidney works normally. The only problem is that there may be a long wait to find a compatible donor. It is important that you take immunosuppressive drugs after the transplant. This way, your body does not reject the new kidney. However, these drugs come with certain side effects.
It is possible for a transplant to be unsuccessful so you need to discuss it with your doctor and be clear first.
Preventing kidney disease
There are several ways to reduce the risk of kidney failure. Some of these include:
- Leading a healthy lifestyle
- Taking the doctor’s advice
- Adhering to instructions provided for taking drugs
- Treating the causes of kidney failure once you notice them
In this post, we have shown you the different kidney disease symptoms. We have also discussed the causes of kidney disease and the types of kidney failure. Finally, we helped by describing the different kidney failure treatment measures.