Urologic Diseases
Kidney Diseases
​Overview:
There are two kidneys, each about the size of a fist, located on either side of the spine at the lowest level of the rib cage. Each kidney contains up to a million functioning units called nephrons. A nephron consists of a filtering unit of tiny blood vessels called a glomerulus attached to a tubule. When blood enters the glomerulus, it is filtered and the remaining fluid then passes along the tubule. In the tubule, chemicals and water are either added to or removed from this filtered fluid according to the body's needs, the final product being the urine we excrete. Healthy kidneys secrete hormones that keep bones strong and blood healthy.

Kidney Diseases:
There are many causes of damage to the kidney tissues. This damage could cause the kidneys to be unable to remove toxins and excess fluid from the body.

Types of kidney diseases
  • Chronic kidney diseases: Chronic kidney disease is defined as having some type of kidney abnormality where kidney tissues are damaged over several years. 
  • Acute renal failure: Acute renal failure (ARF), also known as acute kidney injury (AKI), is a sudden episode of kidney failure or kidney damage. The kidneys become unable to remove wastes, causing them to accumulate, which results in an imbalance of blood components. It is a condition that happens within a few hours or a few days.
  • Other kidney diseases:  Cancer, cysts, stones, and infections. 

Causes:
  • Genetics
  • Diabetes 
  • Hypertension
  • Autoimmune kidney disease 
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Long-term use of drugs harmful to the kidneys

Acute renal failure happens for several reasons. They include:
  • You have a condition that slows blood flow to your kidneys; 
  • You experience direct damage to your kidneys; 
  • Your kidneys' urine drainage tubes (ureters) become blocked and wastes can't leave your body through your urine due to kidney stones or an enlarged prostate.

Risk factors:
  • Aging
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • A family history of kidney diseases
  • Hospitalization, especially for critical cases that require intensive care
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Liver diseases

Symptoms:
Patients with kidney diseases may not notice any symptoms until advanced stages are reached. Symptoms include: 
  • Constant fatigue. Normal kidneys produce erythropoietin hormone (which forms red blood cells). If the kidneys are damaged, the formation of blood is affected and you develop anemia, which in turn causes fatigue and cold.
  • Shortness of breath, even if after making slight effort:  This is either due to fluid accumulation in the lungs or due to anemia.
  • Dizziness or weakness.
  • Confusion
  • Itching
  • Swollen hands, feet or face:  This is the result of fluids accumulating in blood. 
  • A metallic taste in the mouth: It is the result of the accumulation of harmful substances in the blood. 
  • Bad breath 
  • Upset stomach, nausea or vomiting, and loss of appetite.
  • Foamy urine: Due to the presence of protein in urine.  
  • Dark or bloody urine. 
Lower back pain is not a sign of kidney disease, as the kidneys are located just above the waist in the back of the body.

When to see a doctor? 
If you have a medical condition that increases your risk of kidney disease, your doctor will likely monitor your blood pressure and kidney function using urine and blood tests during routine check-ups.

Complications:
  • Fluid accumulation in the body: Acute renal failure can cause an accumulation of fluids in the lungs, which causes shortness of breath. 
  • Chest pain.
  • Bone weakness and an increased risk of fractures.
  • Anemia.
  • Impotence 
  • Central nervous system damage.
  • A decline in the body's immunity, which may increase the possibility of infections.
  • Pericarditis: inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart.
  • Pregnancy complications that could put the mother and baby at risk. 
  • Death.

Diagnosis:
Laboratory tests: Blood or urine tests.

Treatment:
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle 
  • Take your medications regularly to keep other health problems under control (e.g. Hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol, etc.).  
  • Advanced cases of chronic kidney diseases may require: 
    • Dialysis
    • Kidney transplant

Prevention:
  • Avoid taking too much of over-the-counter medications.
  • Control chronic diseases that could damage your kidneys (e.g. hypertension and diabetes). 
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get balanced, healthy nutrition.
  • Quit smoking.

FAQs:
  • Does wearing a corset harm the kidneys? 
    • No, it doesn’t. 
  • Is drinking parsley juice good for the kidneys?
    • It doesn't make a difference. 
  • Can drinking too much water affect the kidneys negatively in healthy people?
    • No, but drinking water excessively may lead to fluid retention in the feet and lungs. It may also affect sodium levels in the blood.
  • Could a sudden stabbing pain mean I’m not drinking enough water or have a kidney infection?  Do I need to see the doctor for that?
    • No, these symptoms mostly have muscular causes. They do not indicate a kidney problem. But if they persist or coincide with other symptoms (e.g. Bloody urine, painful urination, etc.), it’s important to see your doctor. 
  • Why does a kidney donor drink more water?
    • To maintain good irrigation of the transplanted kidney.
  • Why do people with kidney failure refrain from eating bananas?
    • Kidney failure patients are advised to avoid foods that contain high potassium, and bananas contain large amounts of potassium.
  • How do I figure out how much water I need daily?
    • There is no one-size-fits-all. but generally it is recommended to drink 3 liters of water a day. You can also monitor your urine and its concentration as an indicator of fluids in your body. You should also observe if you any quick body weight gains or swollen legs. 

Clinical Education General Department
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Last Update : 14 October 2021 04:07 AM
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