Kidney Disease (Renal Disease): Causes & Symptoms

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Kidneys are one of the essential organs of the human body. They serve a multitude of purposes, perhaps most importantly and notably as the main player in the urinary function of the body. Kidneys not only filter blood, but they also remove wastes and toxins for excretion and maintain blood pressure by regulating a proper salt and water balance in the body. Kidneys also regulate various metabolic activities through their hormonal secretions and maintain the acid-base balance in the body. Without the kidneys, our body would be unable to function at all, which is why kidney disease can be a dangerous condition.

What is Kidney Disease?

There are a number of different diseases that afflict the kidneys. Perhaps the most common are kidney stones, but chronic kidney disease is arguably the worst, in terms of the impact that it can have on your life, including being fatal in the most serious cases. Kidney disease or renal disease comes in two forms, either acute or chronic. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is also known as chronic renal disease and the condition is characterized by the gradual loss of renal function over the course of weeks, months, or years. The inability to control that organ system can be an embarrassing, painful, and unhealthy way to live, so finding ways to reduce the chances of contracting the disease, or reducing the symptoms if you do suffer from CKD is an important area of study.

kidney

Causes

Chronic kidney disease is often seen in people that have a genetic or inherited predisposition towards CKD, or patients who suffer from high blood pressure or diabetes. That being said, other people can suffer from kidney failure or chronic kidney disease, as there is no clear cause in many cases. Unfortunately, just as with the cause, there is also no known cure, but the condition progresses in five stages. It can be properly managed and treated to slow the progression, but inevitably, the only real solution for the condition is a kidney replacement or extended dialysis.

Symptoms

In the first stage of a kidney or renal disease, you might not be able to identify the symptoms, as they are more common and less specific. And therefore, for a better clarity of kidney disease symptoms, we’ll discuss them below.

  • Weakness: Fatigue is one the major symptoms of a kidney disease. When your kidneys start to fail, they stop producing erythropoietin (EPO) hormone, which is responsible for oxygen-carrying red blood cells. This results in anemia, causing muscle weakness and tires up your brain.
  • Anemia: Being anemic can further result in other conditions like a feeling of cold, shortness of breath, dizziness, memory issues, etc.
  • Inflammation: Kidney disease can also cause swelling in the legs, hands, feet, face, etc. This is because of the excess accumulation of fluids in your body.
  • Itching: Since the kidney won’t be doing its job of removing waste from the body, you can experience severe itching.
  • Urine problems: You may also experience problems in urination, like difficulty in passing urine, discoloration, blood in urine, and bubbles or foam in urine.
  • Others: One may also suffer from hyperkalemia (excess potassium in the blood), increased blood pressure, atherosclerosis (deposition of cholesterol in the blood vessels and arteries, often resulting in strokes, heart attacks, and cardiovascular diseases), sexual dysfunction, and loss of libido. Other symptoms include weight loss, nausea, and vomiting.
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