Human kidneys are small, biological marvels with a fascinating design that fulfill a vital function. The failure or inability of the twin organs to function over a significant period can be life-threatening.
Our kidneys are essential organs with a wide range of functions: They form urine and route it through the urinary tract. Excess water and toxins from metabolic processes are also removed along with this urine. What’s more, the kidneys regulate the body’s acid-base balance to prevent excess acidity in the blood.
Through hormone production, the kidneys also play an important part in regulating blood pressure. Hormones from the kidneys, such as erythropoietin, control the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. Furthermore, the kidneys influence the concentration of minerals such as potassium, sodium and calcium in the blood and the production of vitamin D.
Preventing Chronic Kidney Failure:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Drink sufficient fluids
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid excess weight
- Don’t smoke
Kidney diseases can have different causes. Various forms of infection in kidney tissue often leave lasting damage. Even high blood pressure, a common ailment, can damage the kidneys. Underlying diabetes is often the cause of kidney disease and an excessive intake of certain medications can also reduce kidney function in the long term. Various other, sometimes congenital, causes exist, such as polycystic kidney disease.
Chronic kidney disease often goes unnoticed for several years.
Chronic kidney disease ultimately leading to kidney failure is a long and usually creeping process that sees the kidneys slowly lose their ability to function. It can often go unnoticed for several years, as the early signs are usually not especially pronounced. As a result, some patients do not visit a kidney specialist until a late stage of the illness.
Though rare, some acute cases can develop quickly in a matter of days or weeks, thus requiring immediate renal replacement therapy. In such cases, unlike that of chronic kidney disease, there is a good chance that the kidneys will start working again and that renal replacement therapy can be stopped.
When kidneys are no longer able to do their job properly, there are significant consequences for the functional efficiency of the entire organism. Water can utilize in the legs or even in the lungs, for example, and often too few toxins and too many proteins are removed. The body is damaged and the patient’s physical and mental capacity can be compromised. Further consequences are anemia caused by the dysfunction of blood cell production and the onset of decalcification of the bones. As it may be possible to slow the progress of the disease in its early stages, it is important to diagnose chronic kidney disease early on and work with a physician to find the right treatment.
The body is damaged and the patient’s physical and mental capacity can be compromised.
If the performance of the kidneys, also known as clearance, falls below 10 to 15 percent of normal levels, complications are to be expected. Water and waste materials build up in the body, causing uremia. If left untreated over a longer period, this can prove fatal to the patient.
Severely damaged kidneys can only be treated by replacing the organ’s vital functions with an appropriate treatment (renal replacement therapy). Blood sugar and blood pressure have a significant influence on the development and progression of chronic kidney weakness.
There are three basic treatment options:
Hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis take over the key tasks of the kidneys, removing waste materials, excess salt and fluids from the body. In a kidney transplant, a healthy donor kidney replaces the functions of the damaged kidneys. Which treatment is the most suitable for a patient depend on a whole range of medical, social and psychological factors.
Dialysis treatment does not entirely replace all the functions of the kidneys, meaning that patients almost always need to take certain medications regularly. These include antihypertensive treatments, drugs for lowering phosphate levels in the blood, vitamins and drugs that boost the production of red blood cells to prevent anemia.
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