What is kidney disease?

When your kidneys are harmed in any manner and are unable to properly filter your blood, you are said to have a kidney disease. Your body’s waste is filtered by two bean-shaped organs called kidneys. Your blood is filtered 12 times every hour. Urine is used to eliminate extra water, undesirable substances, or waste from the blood.

The words “renal” and “kidney” are used interchangeably.

Renal disease signs and symptoms

As there are often little or no symptoms, kidney illness is referred to as a “silent disease.” In fact, you may lose up to 90% of the performance of your kidneys before exhibiting any symptoms. Several symptoms and indicators include:

  • There is a variation in how often and how much urine you pass, particularly at night (usually an increase at first).
  • Urine with blood (hematuria)
  • alterations in the way your pee looks or consistently foamy urine
  • Your legs and ankles are swollen (edema).
  • Back discomfort (under the lower ribs, where the kidneys are located)
  • discomfort or burning after urinating.
  • Elevated blood pressure

Waste products and excess fluid build up in your blood if your kidneys start to fail. This, along with other issues, progressively results in:

  • Fatigue and a difficulty to focus
  • Feeling overall sick
  • Reduced appetite
  • nauseous and dizzy
  • breathing difficulty
  • Itching
  • Having foul breath and a metallic aftertaste.

Treatment for kidney disease

Kidney disease may sometimes even be avoided if it is identified and treated early enough. Early on, dietary adjustments and medicines may prolong the life of your kidneys.

Dialysis or a kidney transplant must be used to restore kidney function if it has fallen to less than 10% of normal. Dialysis is a kind of therapy for renal failure that involves filtering the blood through a specific membrane to remove waste materials and excess water (fine filter).

Factors that increase the risk of kidney disease

Chronic renal disease is more likely to affect you if you have :

  • High blood pressure.
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • If you have existing cardiac issues (heart failure or a history of heart attacks) or a stroke,
  • A large body size (a body mass index of greater than 30)
  • You are older than 60 years old.
  • Having a history of renal failure in your family
  • long-standing history of smoking
  • A background of acute renal damage

Kidney Disease and High Blood Pressure

Increased pressure in the arteries that transport blood from the heart to every area of the body is known as high blood pressure (hypertension). You may harm your kidneys if high blood pressure is left untreated.

Additionally, renal artery stenosis or dysfunction might cause high blood pressure to develop (narrowing of the main artery to one or both kidneys). Your kidneys regulate the quantity of fluid in your blood vessels and create the hormone renin, which aids in blood pressure regulation.

Kidney Disease and diabetes Mellitus

Diabetic nephropathy, a kind of kidney disease, affects 20 to 30% of patients with diabetes. This is a dangerous condition that raises the risk of heart disease and may exacerbate other diabetes consequences, including damage to the nerves and eyes.

The primary cause of kidney failure, often known as “end-stage kidney disease” or ESKD, is diabetic nephropathy.

Kidney Disease and Heart Disease Risks

People with chronic (ongoing) renal disease often die of cardiovascular disease. People with chronic renal disease are two to three times more likely than the general population to have heart and blood vessel issues like:

angina, chest pain, stroke, heart disease.

Factors like high blood pressure, which are also associated with cardiovascular disease and chronic renal disease, contribute to this elevated risk. Researchers are now learning that both chronic kidney illness and a history of cardiovascular disease are risk factors for the development of each other, and that chronic kidney disease is a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease.

The kidneys produce several hormones, control salt and water balance, and eliminate certain toxins. There are several ways in which kidney failure raises the risk of cardiovascular disease, including:

High blood pressure – the kidneys produce the hormone renin, which aids in controlling blood pressure. They also assist in controlling the body’s sodium and fluid levels.

Increased fluid retention strains the heart and raises the risk of issues including left ventricular hypertrophy, which enlarges the left heart chamber and may lead to heart failure.

A hormone that the kidneys produce serves to control how much calcium is used by the body, which may lead to stiff arteries. A person with chronic renal illness may have hardened or calcified heart valves and arteries.

Some persons with chronic renal illness have higher blood fat levels (hyperlipidemia), which may be brought on by hormonal imbalances. These elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol are indicative of hyperlipidemia. A established risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease is having high levels of LDL cholesterol.

Blood clots: People with certain forms of chronic renal disease and those who have kidney failure are more likely to get blood clots. A thrombus (clot) that has been stuck within a blood artery may stop the flow of blood. Numerous problems, including heart attack and stroke, are become more likely as a result. High blood pressure may result from a clot in one of the renal arteries.

Diagnosing kidney disease

You will have certain kidney function tests (also known as a kidney health check) if kidney disease is suspected in order to assess how well your kidneys are functioning and to aid in the development of your treatment strategy. This comprises:

Tests to see whether there is blood or a protein called albumin in your urine.

A blood test to determine your glomerular filtration rate and the amount of waste products in your blood

A check of blood pressure. High blood pressure brought on by renal illness may harm the kidneys’ tiny blood vessels. Kidney disease may also be brought on by high blood pressure.

An ultrasound or CT scan to create an image of your kidneys and urinary system. These examinations measure the size of your kidneys, look for kidney stones or tumours, and detect any issues with urinary tract and kidney structure.

To assist in managing your treatment and determine if a kidney biopsy is necessary, you may also see a kidney expert (also known as a nephrologist). A tiny bit of kidney tissue is extracted during a kidney biopsy and examined under a microscope to determine the kind of kidney disease and determine if your kidneys are damaged.

Kidney disease screenings using urine

Kidneys that are damaged or inflamed “leak” things into the urine, such blood or protein. The urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (urine ACR) test, which measures the quantity of albumin (a form of protein) in the urine, is the test of choice for identifying protein in the urine.

If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, a urine ACR test should be performed at least once a year, and every two years if you have any of the other conditions that have been linked to a higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

A sample of your urine is sent to a lab for examination as part of a urine ACR test.

Bloodwork to diagnose kidney disease

Glomerular filtration rate (GFR), which may be calculated from a blood test that looks for creatinine, is the best indicator of kidney function (a waste product made by muscle tissue).

A GFR reading more than 90 mL/min/1.73 m2 is considered normal. You have chronic renal disease if the result is consistently less than 60 mL/min/1.73 m2 for at least three months.

Other disorders in kidney function may be detected by blood tests and include:

  • Increased acidity (acidosis)
  • Anaemia (insufficient red blood cells or hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that delivers oxygen) (insufficient red blood cells or hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen)
  • High potassium levels (hyperkaliemia)
  • Low salt content (hyponatremia)
  • Alterations in the calcium and phosphate concentrations.

Scans to diagnose kidney disease

Tests that generate different visuals or photos might be:

  • X-rays – to measure the kidneys’ size and check for kidney stones
  • An picture of the urinary system, including the kidneys, is produced using computed tomography (CT) technology, which combines x-rays and digital computer technology.
  • A powerful magnetic field and radio waves are used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to provide a three-dimensional picture of the urinary system, including the kidneys.
  • Radionucleic scan.
  • X-ray of the bladder, or cystogram
  • Before and after urination, the bladder is imaged during a voiding cystourethrogram.
  • Ultrasound: an image is produced by sound waves “bouncing” off the kidneys. It is possible to use ultrasound to measure the kidneys’ size. An ultrasound may show blood vessel obstructions and kidney stones.

Kidney biopsy

A biopsy is the process of removing a tiny sample of tissue for laboratory analysis. The following types of biopsies may be performed to investigate kidney disease:

kidney biopsy: While the patient is under local anesthesia, the doctor inserts a special needle into the back to take a tiny sample of kidney tissue. A kidney biopsy may support a chronic kidney disease diagnosis.

During a bladder biopsy, the clinician enters the bladder via the urethra using a tiny tube called a cystoscope. This enables the doctor to examine the bladder’s inside and look for any anomalies. Cystoscopy is the name of this technique. A biopsy of bladder tissue may be taken by the physician for laboratory analysis.

Depending on what your doctor suspects is causing your kidney issue, more tests could be ordered.

Kidney Disease Prevention

Kidney failure may be avoided or delayed with the use of medication, lifestyle modifications, and an early referral to a nephrologist (kidney expert).

Healthy lifestyle practices to maintain healthy kidneys include:

  • Consume plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes (peas or beans), and foods made from grains, such as bread, pasta, rice, and noodles.
  • Eat fish and fowl that are lean every week.
  • Consume fatty or salty meals in moderation.
  • Water should always be preferred over other beverages. Reduce your intake of sugary soft drink.
  • keep a healthy weight.
  • Be active. On five or more days of the week, engage in at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, mowing the lawn, biking, swimming, or light aerobics.
  • Stop smoking if you don’t already. Quit if you do. Ask your doctor for advice on stopping smoking by calling the Quitline.
  • Reduce your alcohol consumption.
  • Check your blood pressure often. Take the blood pressure medicine your doctor has given and keep your readings within the desired range.
  • Make an effort to relax and lower your stress levels.
  • There are several medications for high blood pressure. Multiple blood pressure drugs are often recommended since they all function differently. Your demands may need a modification in the dosage.

Where to find guidance

Your physician general (doctor) should be your first point of call. Following your evaluation, the GP may direct you to a specialist nephrologist depending on the severity of your condition.