Kidney diseases are often underestimated. The kidneys of the human body perform a variety of vital functions. These include the regulation of water balance, blood pressure and the acid-base balance.
What are kidney diseases?
Kidney disease can be life-threatening. They occur when the kidneys malfunction, with the result that they no longer work properly. In severe cases, renal failure occurs. This means that the kidneys are failing in the life-sustaining functions. This can happen in a chronic or acute way. Both kidneys do not necessarily have to be affected by hypofunction. See etaizhou for What does AIDS Mean.
The causes of acute and chronic kidney failure are diverse and very different. Acute kidney failure manifests itself in a sudden lack of blood flow to the kidneys. The lack of blood flow can be caused by sudden blood loss, a drop in blood pressure or circulatory shock.
In addition, there are also possible poisoning or other damaging effects on the kidneys. The tissues of the kidneys can also be damaged by taking medications or by fungi in the body, which can lead to acute kidney failure.
For example, those who continuously drink too little liquid and eat improperly contribute to the development of kidney stones, which, in addition to possible bladder stones or urinary stones, can be other causes of kidney failure.
If the human organism is affected by a tumour, attention must always be paid to the functioning of the kidneys. Because a tumor can cause immediate kidney failure.
Inflammation of the kidneys is often caused by pre-existing diseases that weaken the human body in many ways. Conditions such as diabetes, hepatitis, cancer, autoimmune diseases or heart inflammation can lead to dysfunction of one or both kidneys.
However, kidney disease can also be hereditary. This is often the case with kidney cysts. Only when there are multiple cysts can the functional ability of the kidneys be impaired. In this case, we speak of a cystic kidney, which should be treated immediately.
Symptoms, Ailments and Signs
Basically, the first symptoms are expressed in a change in the urine. The change may show up in the amount of urine or its color. In the first case, there can be either an extremely reduced or a greatly increased amount of urine, possibly associated with a cloudy color or blood in the urine.
Inflammatory reactions in kidney activity can manifest themselves in secondary diseases in particular. However, the main symptom of impaired kidney function is the complete absence or reduced production of urine.
As a result of the malfunctioning of the kidneys, metabolic products and toxins can no longer be excreted from the human organism. This does not have to be expressed directly at the beginning and the person concerned does not notice anything at first. Chronic renal insufficiency in particular is initially overlooked because it initially proceeds without symptoms.
The following symptoms can only manifest themselves as the disease progresses or as the kidney function becomes progressively impaired:
- Fluid retention (oedema) in the legs or lungs
- Cardiac arrhythmia, heart failure or inflammation of the pericardium
- pain in the bones
- high blood pressure
- shortness of breath / hyperventilation
- increased concentration of certain metabolic products in the blood. These include, for example, creatinine, urea or uric acid
There are non-specific symptoms that match other clinical pictures. However, they can also indicate a kidney function disorder.
- weaknesses in concentration
- reduced performance
- increased headaches
- nausea and vomiting
- no feeling of hunger
In the case of acute kidney failure, complications can spread to the entire organ system of the human body. Complications can particularly affect the lungs, heart, or brain.
Lungs: Pulmonary edema can occur, which is also known colloquially as water lungs. In this case, blood fluid leaks from the smallest vessels. This fluid flows into the intercellular space and into the alveoli of the human lung. This prevents adequate uptake of oxygen into the bloodstream. The affected person becomes short of breath, may get rattling breathing or foamy sputum.
Heart: Heart failure may occur. Existing high blood pressure in the body’s circulation can lead to arterial hypertension or high blood pressure in the pulmonary circulation. This means that the blood pressure in the arterial vessels is chronically elevated. Cardiac insufficiency can also occur as a result of overhydration in the event of a disturbance in kidney activity.
The heart failure can lead to a backflow into the venous circulation, with the possible consequences of gastric mucosal inflammation, the development of an ulcer or blood loss in the interior of the digestive tract.
Brain: Brain edema or water retention in the brain can lead to neurological complications. This can lead to seizures or reduced alertness.
When should you go to the doctor?
The problem is that in the initial phase of a kidney disorder, there are initially no symptoms. The presence of non-specific symptoms is often attributed to other causes. The possibility of a functional disorder of the kidneys is rarely or not at all considered. But early warning signs can show up in a urine test.
Many GPs check the kidneys with a blood test if it is a routine test. During this examination, the creatinine value is checked.
A person affected should definitely consult a doctor if the symptoms shown are already clearly visible. At least the leading symptom should not be ignored. Anyone producing very little or excessive urine should see a doctor. In addition, the person concerned usually knows from which various diseases he suffers and what effects they can have.
If there is knowledge of a disease, medical information about it will usually have already taken place. This is particularly true with regard to the consequences of an existing disease that could result in renal insufficiency.
If there is a suspicion of a kidney disorder, this can be determined with a blood test. The blood test determines whether the kidneys are filtering urine properly. If there is an insufficiency, the value of the glomerular filtration rate is also reduced. This rate indicates the total volume of primary urine. The total volume is formed by both kidneys together.
The test also provides information about the inflammation values as well as information about the creatinine value.
The disadvantage of a mere blood test may be that damage to the kidneys is only indicated when at least fifty percent of the functional activity of the kidneys has long since been lost. Therefore, it makes sense to have a microalbumin test done. This test focuses on the traces of protein in the urine that are present early in the disease when there is a kidney disorder.
If the suspicion is solidified, it is advisable to consult a kidney disease specialist. This is a nephrologist who can ultimately definitively determine the kidney disorder.
Treatment & Therapy
The nephrologist will decide on the necessary treatment and therapy depending on the type of kidney disease. Not everyone who suffers from kidney disease becomes a dialysis patient straight away. In many cases, various drugs are suitable for medical treatment. If the inflammation in the kidneys is already severe, the specialist will administer glucocorticoids or an immunosuppressant to the patient. These agents help to suppress inflammatory reactions in the human organism.
Treatment for acute kidney injury is a diet that is low in salt and protein. In combination with a balanced intake of fluids and appropriate medication, symptomatic complaints are effectively alleviated in this way.
If the patient with renal insufficiency is already at an advanced stage of acute renal failure, dialysis may become unavoidable. Dialysis is artificial blood washing. In severe cases, a kidney transplant may be necessary.
The treatment of chronic renal insufficiency consists primarily of prescribing medication, for example to treat high blood pressure. In addition, urinary tract infections are treated and the blood sugar level is correctly adjusted. The therapy is aimed at preventing the progression of the kidney disease. The patient himself is required to change his way of life.
Outlook & Forecast
Chronic kidney disease cannot be cured. People who suffer from kidney disease are at an increased risk of having a stroke or heart attack. Diabetics and the elderly are particularly at risk.
The prognosis here depends on the course of the kidney disease, the underlying causes and underlying diseases. A prognosis can fail if the kidney weakness is detected early. The earlier the disease is detected, the sooner the treatment options improve.
Nevertheless, it should be emphasized that acute kidney failure is often fatal. The actual cause of death can then be traced back to the underlying disease that triggered it, such as a shock in the case of an existing sepsis or a heart attack. The prognosis generally worsens when other organs are already damaged.
A body suffering from kidney damage is particularly susceptible to pathogens. The most common cause of death is therefore existing infections.
However, kidney function can recover after acute kidney failure if fluid and blood loss and blood pressure have been successfully treated. In this case, it is possible that the kidneys can start working again.
In the severe case of a dialysis patient, recovery from the kidney weakness is no longer possible. Dialysis remains a lifelong companion.
The regular intake of already prescribed medication is necessary for an improvement in the course of the disease. The respective medical instructions must be strictly observed.
Prevention can be achieved through a healthy lifestyle. This includes not only a healthy diet, but also adequate fluid intake. A person should consume at least two liters a day. Adequate fluid intake is of great importance for the functioning of both the kidneys and the other organs.
In addition to sufficient fluid intake, salt or fat should only be consumed in moderation with food. The consumption of protein-rich foods should also be limited.
If an affected person is already taking medication for another disease, care must be taken to ensure that this does not have a damaging effect on the kidneys. A doctor can provide information and name possible alternatives.
Follow-up treatment depends on the type and severity of kidney disease. Scheduled follow-up examinations following a provisionally completed or terminated therapy serve to identify complications or consequential damage in good time and to treat them effectively, to adapt long-term therapy to the course of the disease and to support those affected in maintaining their quality of life.
In the case of chronic kidney disease, after a kidney transplant or during dialysis treatment, close check-ups are necessary. Follow-up measures include blood pressure checks, urine tests, creatine tests, kidney function tests and ultrasound examinations. Medical rehabilitation sports can also be part of the aftercare.
In addition to regular follow-up examinations, depending on the degree and stage of kidney disease, patients are also given advice on work-related or psychological problems. In certain cases, for example, psychotherapeutic care can be useful. The doctor treating you determines the intervals at which aftercare takes place based on the original findings. In order to carry out further treatment, physicians conduct intensive consultations with the patient in order to provide important information on observing special details.
In the case of an underlying disease or renal insufficiency, permanent follow-up care is necessary. It is also important that patients with diseases such as diabetes receive additional support, such as lifestyle changes, to reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems. The doctor discusses all details for follow-up treatment for kidney diseases in detail with his patient.