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Helpline 0844 332 0932
The kidneys are fist-shaped organs located in your back on either side of the middle portion of the back. They serve the functions of cleansing the blood by removing excess fluid and waste, regulating blood pressure and maintaining the balance of salt and minerals in the blood.
When the kidneys are damaged, fluid and waste products build up in the body, so your ankles swell and you have poor sleep, weakness, vomiting and shortness of breath. Diseased kidneys eventual stop functioning altogether, unless treated, leading to a fatal condition.
If you have healthy kidneys, they perform lifesaving roles for your body. Your healthy kidneys do the following:
One can have an acute loss of kidney function, known as acute renal failure or ARF. This can occur after a traumatic injury with severe blood loss, damage to the kidneys from having a case of shock or severe infection, sudden reduction of blood flow to the kidneys, obstruction of urine outflow, pregnancy complications like pre-eclampsia, eclampsia or HELLP syndrome, or damage from certain drugs or toxins.
What causes chronic kidney disease? Kidney damage that lasts for longer than 3 months is known as chronic kidney disease. It is particularly dangerous because there are no symptoms until irreparable damage has happened. The main causes of chronic renal failure are diabetes types I and II and high blood pressure. Less common causes include things like lupus or chronic viral conditions such as HIV, hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, cases of pyelonephritis or kidney infection, inflammation of the glomeruli in the kidneys, polycystic kidney disease, in which there are multiple cysts on the kidneys, locking out healthy tissue and congenital defects of the kidneys that often result in urinary outlet obstruction. Chronic use of drugs and toxins such as long term use of ibuprofen and naproxen or street drugs can cause chronic kidney damage.
Diagnosis of kidney failure depends on doing a BUN and creatinine, which are standard tests for kidney function. A newer test is the gfr or glomerular filtration rate. This test can indicate the degree of kidney failure a person has and can monitor kidney function over time. You can also measure the amount of protein in the urine, which should be low. Measurement of the blood pressure should be at every visit.
Because kidney disease has no symptoms until it is very late in the disease, it is important to manage your underlying diseases and to have kidney function tests done on a regular basis. People should recognize their risk for kidney disease and follow up accordingly.
Kidney disease can be treated in its early stages. If kidney damage has already occurred, it can’t be undone. For those with diabetes, monitoring blood glucose levels on a regular basis is important. Diabetics need to keep their blood sugars in the normal range as much as possible. They also need to keep their blood pressure in good range, too, usually with ACE inhibitors or ARBs angiotensin receptor blockers, which protect the kidneys as well as control blood pressure.
There are two main treatments for kidney failure: kidney dialysis or kidney transplantation. In hemodialysis, the individual filters blood via the bloodstream only. In peritoneal dialysis, fluid is pumped into the abdomen and mixes with the toxic fluid in the blood. The toxic fluid is then pumped out of the peritoneal space.
In a kidney transplant, a healthy kidney is placed in the pelvis, usually, to take place of the damaged kidneys. This means you no longer need dialysis.
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