How dangerous is kidney disease?

How dangerous is kidney disease?

Worldwide, more than 1.5 million people require renal replacement therapy as a result of kidney failure. The economic burden that this disease brings can knock down any family. This article hopes to help you and your loved ones confidently confront and live with it.

Role of the kidneys

Kidneys are considered as factories that filter and process toxins for the body. The main task of the kidneys is to produce and excrete urine, which helps remove toxins remaining in the blood and helps substances in the circulatory system stabilize in concentration. Not to mention, the kidneys also participate in a number of endocrine activities, affecting the process of hematopoiesis, bone formation and stabilizing blood pressure.

Urine Formation Process: The formation of urine occurs within the functional units of the kidney called nephrons. Blood enters the kidney and undergoes filtration through specialized structures known as glomeruli. These filter out waste products, excess salts, and water, while retaining essential substances like proteins and blood cells. The filtrate then passes through a series of tubules where selective reabsorption and secretion occur. Ultimately, this process results in the formation of urine, which is then excreted from the body.

Regulating Blood Volume: One of the key functions of the kidneys is to regulate the volume of extracellular fluid in the body by adjusting urine production. When we consume excess fluids, the kidneys increase urine output to maintain the body's fluid balance. Conversely, during dehydration or reduced fluid intake, the kidneys conserve water by reducing urine volume, helping to prevent excessive fluid loss and maintain blood pressure.

Endocrine Function: In addition to urine formation, the kidneys play an important endocrine role. They produce hormones like renin, which is involved in regulating blood pressure by influencing the body's fluid balance and blood vessel constriction. The kidneys also produce erythropoietin, a hormone that stimulates the bone marrow to produce red blood cells (erythrocytes). This hormone is vital for maintaining adequate oxygen levels in the body.

Overall, the kidneys are essential organs responsible for filtering blood, regulating fluid balance, and producing hormones critical for various physiological functions. Understanding the intricate processes of urine formation and the kidneys' role in maintaining homeostasis underscores their significance in overall health and well-being. By supporting kidney function through proper hydration and healthy lifestyle choices, individuals can help optimize these vital functions and promote long-term health.

What is Kidney Disease?

Kidney disease is a general term used to describe conditions where the kidneys are damaged, impaired, and unable to filter blood normally. Patients with diabetes or high blood pressure are at risk of kidney disease. In cases of end-stage kidney failure, treatment options include kidney transplantation, dialysis, or peritoneal dialysis.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) specifically refers to a prolonged decline in kidney function. CKD typically progresses slowly and its symptoms can be easily mistaken for other conditions.

In early stages of kidney disease (stages 1-3), there are usually no symptoms, and the condition is often detected incidentally through blood and urine tests. Patients with advanced CKD (stage 4 and above) may experience symptoms such as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, mouth inflammation, taste disturbances, nocturia (frequent urination at night), fatigue, itching, mood swings, muscle cramps, fluid retention, malnutrition, peripheral neuropathy, and seizures.

For an accurate diagnosis, individuals should seek medical evaluation at healthcare facilities based on clinical test results. Healthcare professionals will assess kidney function, diagnose the disease, and develop appropriate treatment plans tailored to each patient's condition.

Signs of Kidney Disease

  1. Fatigue, Body Weakness When kidney function declines, toxins and waste accumulate in the blood. This can cause fatigue, weakness, and difficulty concentrating. Another complication of kidney disease is anemia, which can lead to body weakness and fatigue.

  2. Difficulty Sleeping When kidney filtration is impaired, toxins may remain in the blood instead of being excreted through urine, leading to difficulty sleeping. Individuals with chronic conditions like obesity, kidney disease, or sleep apnea are at higher risk of kidney disease.

  3. Dry, Itchy Skin Dry and itchy skin can indicate mineral and bone disorders related to kidney function. The kidneys play a crucial role in removing waste and excess fluid from the body, producing red blood cells, maintaining healthy bones, and regulating mineral balance in the blood. When kidneys are diseased, they may fail to maintain this balance.

  4. Frequent Urination Feeling the urge to urinate frequently, especially at night, can be a sign of kidney disease. Damaged kidney filters can lead to increased urinary frequency. Sometimes, this can also be a sign of urinary tract infection or prostate enlargement in men.

  5. Blood in Urine Kidney problems can result in blood leakage during the blood filtration process, leading to blood in the urine. Apart from indicating kidney disease, blood in urine can also be a sign of tumors, kidney stones, or infections.

  6. Foamy Urine Excessive bubbles in the urine, resembling egg whites that require multiple flushes to disappear, can be an easily recognizable sign of kidney disease.

  7. Swelling in Ankles, Feet Decreased kidney function can cause sodium retention in the body, leading to swelling in the ankles and feet. Additionally, swelling in the lower limbs can also be a sign of heart disease, liver disease, or chronic venous insufficiency.

  8. Loss of Appetite, Taste Changes A common and often overlooked sign of kidney disease is loss of appetite and taste changes. This can occur due to the accumulation of toxins in the body resulting from decreased kidney function.

  9. Muscle Cramps Reduced kidney function disrupts normal blood filtration, leading to electrolyte imbalance. This imbalance can cause calcium loss and phosphate retention, resulting in muscle cramps.

If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, it's important to seek medical attention promptly for proper diagnosis and treatment. Early detection and management of kidney disease can help prevent complications and preserve kidney function.

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