Right from filtering the blood to getting rid of waste products, kidneys perform a vital role in the functioning of one’s body. However, when it comes to understanding kidney disorders, especially kidney failure and related disorders, early signs are very subtle. For people who are at any stage of kidney failure, knowledge is necessary. Today, with expert inputs from Dr. Uma Kishore - Consultant, Nephrology Department at Rockland Hospital, New Delhi - let us understand the A-Z of kidney failure.
Even though many kidney diseases are still of unknown cause, kidney failure results from primary diseases of the kidneys itself. Having said that, diabetes and high blood pressure are the two common causes of kidney failure. A family history of kidney problems may also increase the risk of developing the disease. Hypertension is another cause which can damage the kidney over time.
Kidneys perform crucial functions, which affect all parts of the body. But, kidneys are also vulnerable to a range of problems from minor urinary track infections to progressive kidney failure. Kidney disease usually affects both kidneys. If the kidney’s ability to remove and regulate water and chemicals is seriously damaged, waste products and excess fluids build up, causing severe swelling and symptoms of kidney failure.
People who have conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, liver disease or any vascular disease are at a greater risk of kidney failure. Also, people with HIV are at an elevated risk of kidney failure.
Symptoms of kidney failure. Unfortunately symptoms often don’t appear until irreversible damage has occurred. Signs may include:
- Burning or difficulty during urination
- An increase in frequency of urination, nocturnal
- Passage of bloody urine
- Puffiness around eyes
- Swelling of hands and feet
- Pain in back just below ribs
- High blood pressure
In the early stages, it doesn’t show any symptoms. Renal failure or kidney failure can be diagnosed by a series of tests, such as blood test, urine test, renal function test, X-rays, ultrasound and renal biopsy.
Diet plays a very important for people with kidney failure. Patients with this disease need to have a low protein diet. They need to have high calcium, high iron, high vitamin and low phosphors intake. It is necessary for them to limit the intake of sodium, as it cannot be excreted through urine effectively, thus resulting in high blood pressure. Therefore, table salt, tomato ketchup, black vinegar should be avoided as they contain much of sodium. Also limit the intake of potassium and phosphorous.
Medications may be used to control some other conditions associated with this disease, but not kidney failure directly. These include, iron supplements for RBC production and BP medications. But once the kidneys fail completely, the treatment options are limited to dialysis or kidney replacement by transplantation.
*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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