Kidney disorders affect the function of the kidneys – the organs that filter the blood of impurities and turn waste products into urine.
Located either side of the body - just beneath the ribcage - kidneys are not only essential filtering mechanisms in the body; they’re also vital for regulating blood pressure, electrolyte levels and body acidity levels.
Kidney infection, kidney stones, and chronic kidney disease (CKD) are common conditions that materialise more as we get older. They can be treated relatively easily if caught early on, and certain lifestyle choices are modified.
One of the most frequently experienced types of kidney complaint is chronic kidney disease – known as CKD.
Usually, kidney disease symptoms are only fully experienced in the later stages of the disease, but it can be detected at an early stage in blood and urine tests. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes or a family history of the condition, then annual screening is usually suggested by your doctor.
High blood pressure is a warning of advanced kidney disease. Other signs are swelling around the eyes, ankles or fingers. As symptoms are quite unspecific, this is why it’s sometimes not picked up in the early stages.
In advanced stages, chronic kidney disease can cause kidney failure – also known as ERF or established renal failure. This will need continuous treatment with a dialysis machine.
As the name suggests – kidney stones are hard lumps that develop in the kidneys – a crystallised build-up of filtered waste. They are very common indeed – almost 1 in 5 men and 1 in 20 women will experience kidney stones at some point in their lives.
Kidney stones symptoms are usually considerable pain in the flanks. This is known as renal colic. It’s possible to pass kidney stones unnoticed, but as they usually travel through the urinary system – the ureter or the urethra - this can cause pain in such a narrow opening, or in some cases, infection.
Kidney stones treatment ranges from medication and X-rays - a specific type called high-energy radiation - to surgery performed under general anaesthetic.
When harmful bacteria travel up from the bladder to the kidneys, this is known as a kidney infection.
Pyelonephritis is the medical name for these sorts of diseases and although kidney infection symptoms can occur suddenly, it can be cleared up promptly with the right medication. It is, however, vital that treatment is forthcoming to avoid permanent damage.
E. coli is an infection that can seriously damage kidneys and be fatal if not dealt with promptly. Travelling from the anus to the urethra, then the bladder to the kidneys, the bacteria must be stopped with powerful kidney infection treatments like antibiotics as soon as symptoms are experienced – such as fever and pain in the back and sides.
Kidney disease treatments vary depending on which form is present, but as a general rule, if caught early enough, most treatments are highly effective.
By drinking plenty of water, not consuming too much alcohol, avoiding smoking, maintaining a balanced diet, and exercising regularly, it’s possible to have efficiently functioning kidneys and avoid problems.
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