Kidney Diseases

Help to promote renal health and prevent problems due to kidney diseases and disorders.

Select a Topic

  1. What are Kidney Diseases?
  2. Function of the Kidneys
  3. Diagnosing Kidney Disease
  4. Help for Kidney Diseases

What are Kidney Diseases?

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, about 5 inches long and 3 inches wide. They are dark red in color, and located on either side of your spine in the middle of your back, just below your rib cage. The right kidney lies a little lower than the left kidney. The kidneys together with the bladder, two ureters and single urethra constitute the urinary system.

Each kidney is covered with a transparent, fibrous membrane called a renal capsule which protects it against infection and trauma. Each kidney contains millions of microscopically thin structures called nephrons which filters the blood and causes waste to be eliminated in the form of urine. The kidneys do not weigh much - approximately 0.5 percent of your body weight.

Too many waste products that build up in the bloodstream can cause a wide range of kidney disorders may develop. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the major causes of kidney disease. By managing your sugar levels, checking your blood pressure regularly, having regular blood and urine tests to monitor kidney health and function will help to ward off kidney disease. In addition, eat healthy, balanced meals, exercise regularly and stop smoking are a few small changes that can make a huge difference to your kidney function.

Function of the Kidneys

The kidneys have several important functions and they include:

  • Separates urea, mineral salts, toxins and other waste products from the blood
  • Conserves water, salts and electrolytes
  • Filters metabolic wastes from the blood plasma and excretes it from the body
  • Removes and breaks down toxins in the body by getting rid of it in the urine
  • Balances the volume of body fluid and mineral content
  • Responsible for ensuring that blood pressure remains steady over the long term
  • Balances the volume of body fluid and mineral content
  • Responsible for ensuring that blood pressure remains steady over the long term
  • Excretes extra acid that the body produces
  • Excretes water and electrolytes to match water intake and endogenous production
  • Secretes hormones Erythropoietin (EPO) to make more red blood cells
  • Activates Vitamin D to maintain healthy bones

Diagnosing Kidney Disease?

  • Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is an inherited disease in which numerous cysts filled with fluid form in the kidneys, causing them to become enlarged.
  • Nephrotic syndrome is a kidney disease characterized by a massive leak of protein (albumin) into the urine (proteinuria), a low blood level of albumin due to the large amounts lost in the urine, an increased level of cholesterol in the blood and retention of fluid in the body (edema) causing swelling.
  • Lupus nephritis is an inflammation of the kidney caused by a disease of the immune system, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
  • Diabetic nephropathy is a kidney condition that occurs as a result of diabetes.
  • Glomerulonephritis is a type of kidney disease caused by inflammation of the internal kidney structures.
  • Pyelonephritis is an infection of the kidney and the ureters.
  • Rhabdomyolysis is a disorder involving injury to the kidney.
  • Kidney stone is a hard, stone-like mass developed from crystals that forms in the kidneys or urinary tract
  • Renal tubular acidosis (RTA) occurs when the kidneys fail to excrete acids into the urine, and as a result a person's blood remains too acidic.
  • Acute renal failure occurs when your kidneys stop working
  • Chronic renal failure is a condition in which kidney function gradually declines

Help for Kidney Diseases

Treating kidney disease and conditions generally depends on the type of condition that the individual may have. Medications include several prescription drugs such as antibiotics and steroids. People suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes should monitor and control these conditions to prevent further damage to their kidneys. If kidney failure occurs, dialysis which involves the blood being filtered by an artificial kidney machine is required. In cases where kidney failure is severe and irreversible, a kidney transplant may be necessary.


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