Chronic kidney disease
Approximately 23 million adults (11.5% of adults aged 20 or more) manifest symptoms of chronic kidney disease (CKD). The kidney’s filters can be damaged slowly over time. In fact, problems may only become apparent after a period of years or decades. But what is CKD? And what happens during cases of CKD?
What is chronic kidney disease?
The kidneys filter waste from your blood, which is then passed through the urine. Healthy kidneys produce erythropoietin, which is a hormone that later affects the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. The kidneys also produce rennin, another hormone that regulates blood pressure. Kidneys affected by CKD cannot perform these vital functions. Furthermore, chronic kidney disease usually affects both kidneys at the same time.
Kidneys are about the size of your fist, and have a distinctive bean-like shape. Each kidney is located on either side of the spine below the rib cage, in the middle-back area. The kidneys filter out 2 quarts of waste and extra water per 200 quarts of blood daily. These by-products become urine, passed from the kidneys to the bladder via connecting tubes called ureters.
Waste in the blood is normal, due to food and tissue breakdown. Once the body has removed the nutrients and elements it needs from the food, waste is released in the blood. If the kidneys did not cleanse the blood, the waste build up would seriously damage the body. The main components of the kidneys include:
Glomerulus - A tiny blood vessel in the nephron called a glomerulus intertwines with a urine-collecting tube. The glomerulus allows waste and excess fluid to pass through it, but keeps essential proteins and cells in the body, along with any remaining chemicals the body can utilize, such as sodium or potassium. In this fashion, the kidneys also regulate healthy levels of these elements in the body.
Nephrons - About a million nephrons in each kidney have the job of removing waste.
Kidneys are also important to hormonal health, and produce:
Types of kidney disease
Acute kidney injury - When an accident damages the kidneys, blood loss can be catastrophic. Too much blood loss can produce kidney failure. Drugs or poisons can also bring on failure. These sudden events are categorized as acute kidney injury (AKI), also called acute renal failure (ARF). Permanent loss of kidney function can result from AKI. If the kidneys have not sustained serious damage, acute failure can be reversed.
Child kidney disease - Doctors often suspect this type of kidney disease when a child has high blood pressure, or seems anemic.
Chronic kidney disease - Kidney disease can be a silent killer, going unnoticed for a long period of time. This gradual deterioration is referred to as chronic (CKD), or chronic renal insufficiency. This can lead to permanent kidney failure, and increases the risk of stroke or heart attack.
Congenital kidney disease - Hereditary factors increase kidney disease risk. One type of disease called polycystic kidney disease (PKD) leads to cysts that grow in the kidneys, claiming more and more of their mass, reducing function, and then failure. Even in the womb, genetic disorders can be found. A version called autosomal recessive PKD can result in malformed nephrons. A child experiencing slow growth, chronic vomiting, or back and side pain may be suffering from a genetic version of kidney disease.
Diabetic kidney disease - Unused glucose in the blood damages the nephrons in what is called diabetic kidney disease. This is because when glucose remains in the blood rather than breaking down, it can behave like poison. Diabetes causes this by keeping the body from using glucose, a form of sugar, as normal.
End-stage renal disease (ESRD) - End-stage renal disease categorizes total or nearly total and permanent kidney failure. Those with ESRD must depend upon dialysis or even transplantation to stay alive.
Glomerular diseases - Glomerular diseases destroy kidney function over time by attacking the tiny blood vessels, or glomeruli, within the kidney. Autoimmune diseases, infection-related diseases, and sclerotic diseases are grouped under this category. Primary glomerular diseases such as membranous nephropathy, IgA nephropathy, and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis are the most common.
Are you at risk of developing kidney disease? Do you know what can cause CKD? Learn more about risks and diseases that cause kidney disease here.
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