Kidney Disease

What Is Kidney Disease?


The kidneys are a pair of fist-sized organs located at the bottom of the rib cage. There is one kidney on each side of the spine.

Kidneys are essential to having a healthy body. They are mainly responsible for filtering waste products, excess water, and other impurities out of the blood. These toxins are stored in the bladder and then removed during urination. The kidneys also regulate pH, salt, and potassium levels in the body. They produce hormones that regulate blood pressure and control the production of red blood cells. The kidneys even activate a form of vitamin D that helps the body absorb calcium.

It occurs when your kidneys become damaged and can’t perform their function. Damage may be caused by diabetes, high blood pressure, and various other chronic (long-term) conditions.




Kidney disease can lead to other health problems, including weak bones, nerve damage, and malnutrition. If the disease gets worse over time, your kidneys may stop working completely. This means that dialysis will be required to perform the function of the kidneys. Dialysis is a treatment that filters and purifies the blood using a machine. It can’t cure kidney disease, but it can prolong your life.


You’re born with two kidneys. They’re on either side of your spine, just above your waist. When your kidneys are damaged, waste products and fluid can build up in your body. That can cause swelling in your ankles, nausea, weakness, poor sleep, and shortness of breath. Without treatment, the damage can get worse and your kidneys may eventually stop working. That’s serious, and it can be life-threatening.



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What Your Kidneys Do


Healthy kidneys:


  • Keep a balance of water and minerals (such as sodium, potassium, and phosphorus) in your blood
  • Remove waste from your blood after digestion, muscle activity, and exposure to chemicals or medications
  • Make renin, which your body uses to help manage your blood pressure
  • Make a chemical called erythropoietin, which prompts your body to make red blood cells
  • Make an active form of vitamin D, needed for bone health and other things


Kidney Disease Causes




Acute kidney disease causes: If your kidneys suddenly stop working, doctors call it acute kidney injury or acute renal failure. The main causes are:


  • Not enough blood flow to the kidneys
  • Direct damage to the kidneys
  • Urine backed up in the kidneys

Those things can happen when you:

  • Have a traumatic injury with blood loss, such as in a car wreck
  • Are dehydrated or your muscle tissue breaks down, sending too much protein into your bloodstream
  • Go into shock because you have a severe infection called sepsis
  • Have an enlarged prostate that blocks your urine flow
  • Take certain drugs or are around certain toxins that directly damage the kidney
  • Have complications during a pregnancy, such as eclampsia and preeclampsia


Autoimmune diseases: when your immune system attacks your body -- can also cause an acute kidney injury.


  • People with severe heart or liver failure commonly go into acute kidney injury as well.
  • Chronic kidney disease causes: When your kidneys don't work well for longer than 3 months, doctors call it chronic kidney disease. You may not have any symptoms in the early stages, but that's when it’s simpler to treat.
  • Diabetes (types 1 and 2) and high blood pressure are the most common culprits. High blood sugar levels over time can harm your kidneys. And high blood pressure creates wear and tear on your blood vessels, including those that go to your kidneys.




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Other conditions include:


  • Immune system diseases (If you have kidney disease due to lupus, your doctor will call it lupus nephritis.)
  • Long-lasting viral illnesses, such as HIV and AIDS, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C
  • Pyelonephritis, a urinary tract infection within the kidneys, which can result in scarring as the infection heals. It can lead to kidney damage if it happens several times.
  • Inflammation in the tiny filters (glomeruli) in your kidneys. This can happen after a strep infection.
  • Polycystic kidney disease, a genetic condition where fluid-filled sacs form in your kidneys
  • Defects present at birth can block the urinary tract or affect the kidneys. One of the most common ones involves a kind of valve between the bladder and urethra. A urologist can often do surgery to repair these problems, which may be found while the baby is still in the womb.









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Drugs and toxins: such as lead poisoning, long-term use of some medications including NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen and naproxen, and IV street drugs -- can permanently damage your kidneys. So can being around some types of chemicals over time.


Kidney Disease Symptoms


Your kidneys are very adaptable. They can compensate for some of the problems that can happen when you have kidney disease. So if your kidney damage gets worse slowly, your symptoms will reveal themselves slowly over time. In fact, you may not feel symptoms until your disease is advanced.





  •   High blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • A metallic taste in your mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Trouble thinking
  • Sleep issues
  • Muscle twitches and cramps
  • Swelling in your feet and ankles
  • Itching that won't go away
  • Chest pain, if fluid builds up around the lining of the heart  &  Shortness of breath, if fluid builds up in the lungs


Kidney Disease Diagnosis


Your doctor will start by asking questions about your family medical history, which medications you're taking, and if you notice that you're peeing more or less than normal. After that, they'll do a physical exam.

You also may have:

  • Blood tests, to see how much waste product is in your blood
  • Urine tests, to check for kidney failure
  • Imaging tests, like an ultrasound, to let the doctor see your kidneys


  • A kidney biopsy, where tissue from your kidney is sent to a lab for testing to try and figure out the cause of your kidney issues.

Kidney Disease Treatment


Some forms of kidney disease are treatable. The goals of these treatments are to ease symptoms, help keep the disease from getting worse, and lessen complications. In some cases, your treatment may help restore some of your kidney function. There is no cure for chronic kidney disease.

The plan you and your doctor will decide on will depend on what’s causing your kidney disease. In some cases, even when the cause of your condition is controlled, your kidney disease will worsen.

Once your kidneys can't keep up with waste on their own, you'll have treatment for end-stage kidney disease.

This can include:

Dialysis. Waste and extra fluid are taken out of your body when your kidneys can't do it anymore. There are two types:



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Hemodialysis, where a machine removes the waste and extra fluids from your blood

Peritoneal dialysis, which involves inserting a thin tube called a catheter into your abdomen. Then, a solution goes into your abdomen that absorbs the waste and fluids. After a while, the solution drains from your body.

Kidney transplant, A surgeon replaces your kidney with a healthy one from a donor. This donor can be living or deceased. After the procedure, you take medicine for the rest of your life to make sure that your body doesn't reject your new kidney.





Neshat Khosravi - Microbiologist







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