Kidney Disease

About Kidney Disease

Kidney Disease

The main function of the kidneys is to filter the blood. They remove waste products and excess fluid, which is excreted as urine. The kidneys play an essential role in maintaining a healthy balance in the blood that is necessary for normal tissue function throughout the body. The kidneys also make certain hormones that are important for controlling blood pressure, making new red blood cells, and maintaining bone health. Kidney disease occurs when the kidneys are damaged and unable to function as well as they should.

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Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a gradual decline in the kidneys’ ability to function properly. If the kidneys aren’t able to properly filter the blood, harmful waste products can build up throughout the body, which can cause health problems.

There are a number of diseases or conditions that can cause CKD. The most common causes of CKD are diabetes and high blood pressure. IgA nephropathy is a common autoimmune kidney disease that causes inflammation and can lead to CKD. Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic condition that can lead to CKD through the growth of many cysts. Other causes of CKD include heart disease, diseases that affects the entire body such as lupus, recurrent kidney infections, toxins or poison, and anatomical problems such as a narrowing of the arteries leading to the kidneys.

In the early stages of CKD, many people may not experience any symptoms. In these cases, only blood and urine tests can detect CKD. In more advanced stages of CKD, people may experience swelling, or edema, usually in the legs, feet, or ankles, as well as a number of other possible symptoms. Depending on the cause, some types of CKD can be treated to control symptoms and complications or to slow disease progression. It’s important to explore treatment options for CKD as early as possible.

Treatments can include medication and various lifestyle changes, such as controlling blood glucose levels, controlling blood pressure, a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, quitting smoking, getting enough sleep, and managing stress.

CKD can get worse over time, and eventually it can lead to kidney failure. The treatment for kidney failure is regular dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant.

However, not all CKD leads to kidney failure. It’s important to talk to your doctor about ways you can manage CKD.

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a genetic disease that causes a steady growth of cysts in the kidneys. As cysts grow, they damage surrounding kidney tissue, which leads to CKD. This can eventually progress to kidney failure and the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant. It’s important to talk to family members about the need to get tested if there’s a history of kidney disease in your family.

Some cases of PKD can be treated to control symptoms and complications or to slow disease progression. It’s important to explore treatment options for PKD as early as possible.

There are two types of PKD: autosomal recessive PKD (ARPKD) and autosomal dominant PKD (ADPKD).

ARPKD is a rare form of PKD, affecting 1 in 20,000 births. It is caused by two abnormal copies of the PKHD1 gene. ARPKD is detectable in utero as cyst growth leads to enlarged kidneys very early on. This results in serious complications and in many cases may cause death soon after birth. Other complications with ARPKD can include liver problems and difficulty breathing. The prognosis for ARPKD has improved greatly in recent years, but approximately 1/3 of children with ARPKD will need dialysis or a kidney transplant by age 10.

ADPKD is the more common form of PKD, affecting more than 12.5 million people worldwide. It is caused by one abnormal copy of either the PKD1 or PKD2 gene. Small cysts are present at birth and continue to grow at a steady pace. Healthy kidney tissue around the growing cysts can compensate for the loss of function for many years. Because of this compensation, people may not notice any symptoms until adulthood, often when kidney function starts to noticeably decline. Other symptoms that develop such as pain, hypertension, bladder or kidney infections, enlarged abdomen, and blood in the urine can affect quality of life. More than half of people with ADPKD will need dialysis or a kidney transplant by age 60.