Your kidneys are crucial to your body because they produce urine and remove waste and toxins from your blood. Your kidneys may occasionally lose their capacity to operate normally as a result of illness, infection, or other factors. This indicates renal illness when it occurs. Understanding kidney illness can enable you to take care of your health and fight for your rights while dealing with this ailment.
About The Kidneys
Kidney disease can arise when your kidneys are damaged and are no longer functioning properly. Your kidneys normally carry out a variety of vital tasks, such as:
- Filtering out harmful waste from the blood
- Regulating your water and electrolyte status
- Making hormones
- Producing urine
- Returning clean blood to your body
Your kidneys can’t effectively filter out waste materials if they are damaged. Toxins and nitrogen waste products then accumulate in your blood. This may result in problems with your heart, lungs, bones, brain, and other body parts. Another reason why the kidneys are so crucial and why it’s crucial to comprehend kidney illness is that this buildup can be fatal if left unchecked.
Kidney disease is classified into two types: acute and chronic.
Acute Kidney Disease
When your kidneys suddenly are unable to adequately filter your blood, it results in acute renal disease, also known as acute kidney failure. This failure typically occurs over a few hours or days, and persons who are already hospitalized and receiving treatment for another medical illness frequently experience it. Usually, this kind of renal illness can be reversed. You may get acute kidney illness if you:
- Don’t have enough blood flow to your kidneys.
- Have a blockage in your ureters, the tubes that connect your kidneys to your bladder. This prevents urine from exiting and causes the waste to back up into your kidneys.
- Get direct damage to your kidneys from an infection, blood clot, or other condition.
- Take certain medications that injure the kidneys, like some antibiotics or the contrast used for CT and MRI.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
Your kidneys gradually lose their ability to operate over the course of months or years, resulting in chronic kidney disease (CKD). Even with medication, this kind of kidney disease typically does not improve and must be treated with dialysis or a kidney transplant. The following medical disorders might affect kidney function and cause CKD:
- Uncontrolled diabetes is the most common cause of chronic kidney disease
- High blood pressure that is uncontrolled is the second most common
- Frequent kidney infections
- Other kidney disease like prolonged blockage with kidney stones
Kidney illness frequently occurs without any outward symptoms that you can observe at home. Instead, your doctor orders routine bloodwork for you, which is how this issue is found. This is why it’s crucial to maintain frequent doctor appointments, especially if you struggle with a condition like diabetes or high blood pressure.
Your doctor can diagnose you with kidney disease with the following tests:
- Blood tests: Your doctor may check your blood for waste products that your kidney should have filtered out. If they see waste products in your blood, that suggests that you have kidney disease.
- Urine tests: Abnormalities in your urine, like the presence of protein, may suggest that you have kidney disease.
- Imaging: CT scans and ultrasounds take images of your kidneys to look for any abnormalities.
- Taking a sample of the kidney for testing: Your doctor can insert a needle into your kidney to take a sample of it and send it to a lab where they will check it for disease.
Stages of CKD
If you have CKD, your doctor will stage your condition to assist you choose the best course of treatment. This implies that they will evaluate your kidney function and the severity of your kidney illness. Your doctor will examine your blood and urine to determine this. Your glomerular filtration rate determines your stage of CKD (GFR). This examination gauges how well your kidneys are removing waste products from the blood.
There are five stages of CKD:
- Stage 1 (GFR ≥ 90): In stage 1 CKD, your kidneys are only mildly damaged and work as well as they normally do.
- Stage 2 (GFR 60-89): In stage 2 CKD, your kidneys are still working pretty well, but your doctor may notice protein in your urine. Normally, your kidneys filter protein back to make sure that it stays in your blood. With stage 2 CKD, however, your kidneys have a hard time keeping protein in the blood, so it may be lost in the urine.
- Stage 3 (GFR 30-59): In stage 3 CKD, your kidneys don’t work as well as they normally would, and you may start having symptoms. If you improve your lifestyle and diet, you’re less likely to progress to stages 4 and 5.
- Stage 4 (GFR 15-29): In stage 4 CKD, your kidneys have been severely damaged, and you’ll have symptoms like swelling or nausea.
- Stage 5 (GFR < 15): Stage 5 CKD is complete kidney failure. You’ll need treatment with dialysis or a kidney transplant.
It’s crucial to treat both acute and chronic kidney illness if you want to stay healthy. The best treatment plan for you should be discussed with your doctor.
Acute Kidney Failure Treatment
Options for acute kidney failure treatment include:
- Controlling the amount of fluids in your blood: Your kidneys normally control how much fluid is in your blood. If you have acute kidney failure, you may have too much or too little fluid. If you have too little fluid in your blood, your doctor may give you fluids directly into your blood. If you have too much fluid in your blood, your doctor may prescribe a diuretic medication, which causes you to release extra fluid through your urine.
- Medications: Kidney disease can cause potassium and calcium levels in your blood to become abnormal, leading to abnormal heart rhythms. Medications can help you keep the amount of potassium and calcium in your blood normal.
Treatments for CKD include:
- Medications: CKD can cause several other issues, such as swelling, high blood pressure, low levels of red blood cells, abnormal cholesterol levels, and bone disease. Your doctor may need to put you on several medications to manage all of these symptoms and conditions.
- Diet changes: When your kidneys don’t work properly, they are unable to filter proteins as well. Your doctor may recommend that you eat a low-protein diet. They might also have you speak to a dietician so you can decrease the amount of protein you eat while maintaining a healthy diet.
- Dialysis: Dialysis involves pumping blood out of your body, putting it through a machine that filters it, and returning it to your body. This is a treatment you can receive multiple times per week at a facility that is dedicated to doing dialysis. This treatment takes over the role of your kidneys, so it filters your blood for you and then returns the clean blood back to you, just like your kidneys normally would.
- Kidney transplant: If your kidneys become too unhealthy, you may need a kidney transplant. This means you will get a healthy kidney from someone who has donated theirs. After you get a transplant, your doctor will put you on medications that prevent your immune system from attacking the donated kidney.
By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter
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