Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, the information on these pages is gathered from my own experience, books, websites, and other people's experience. I will not be held responsible for any injury resulting from this information. If you have a medical condition, you should seek qualified medical advice and supervision at all times.
Kidney disease is a painful condition where the kidneys do not work properly. This could be due to birth defects, or damaged caused by infection, often urinary tract infections. Kidney function degrades as we grow older, so it is important to look after them. However, a person can survive with one kidney.
Your kidneys are responsible for removing waste and fluid from your body by filtering the blood, and they help to maintain correct levels of sodium, potassium, phosphorus and calcium. They also help to regulate blood pressure and remove drugs and toxins. When kidneys are severely damaged, you have an increased risk of developing heart disease, anemia, nerve damage, diabetes and other disorders.
People with a family history of chronic kidney disease have a higher risk of developing it themselves. Also, diabetes, high blood pressure, and those who are elderly also have an increased risk.
Anti-inflammatory medications weaken kidneys, and taken in large amounts actually cause physical degradation. Anyone who has kidney disease really should make sure they do not take any anti-inflammatory medications, including pain relievers that have such properties (ibuprofen etc).
Most symptoms of kidney disease are not detectable until the disease is quite advanced. Some of the common symptoms are indicative of many different diseases, and include:
- tired, low energy and concentration difficulties
- poor appetite
- water retention around feet and ankles
- muscle cramping, especially at night
- dry and itchy skin
- recurrent cystitis, urinary tract infections (UTIs) or kidney infections
There are some physical defects can can cause UTIs and kidney disease.
A duplex kidney is one where something has been doubled. There could be a double collection system (where the blood passes through and the urine is filtered out), and/or double tubes between the kidney and bladder (ureter). These tubes rarely remain seperate the whole way down, usually joining into one tube before it reaches the bladder.
Reflux is where the urine, having left the kidneys and on it's way to the bladder, turns around and goes the wrong way, back to the kidneys. This could happen for any number of reasons. The duplex system greatly increases the chance of having reflux because if the two tubes join, you could have urine going down one tube, reaching the join and then going back up the other.
It can also be caused by faulty valved in the bladder, which lets urine leave the bladder once there is sufficient pressure.
This causes bacteria to hang around too long in the kidneys and can cause infections and deterioration of the kidneys. Reflux normally happens at a very young age, usually completely ceasing by the age of seven.
A fairly common problem with the bladder is that it doesn't empty properly, leaving a small amount of urine behind. This is bad because the bacteria have more time to multiply and attack the bladder walls. This can cause UTIs (urinary tract infections, also known as cystitis).
Cystitis is a bacterial infection, usually called a urinary tract infection (UTI). It is where the bacteria attach themselves to the walls of the urinary tract, the bladder, the ureter or the kidneys (or any combination). It is detected by a urine test and treated with antibiotics. If left untreated the kidneys can suffer greatly.
Symptoms of cystitis may include
- Burning pain when urinating
- Strong smelling urine
- Cloudy urine
- Blood in urine
- Dark urine
- Extreme and/or constant pressure to pass urine
Possible causes of cystitis
- Bacteria staying too long in bladder/tubes
- Bacteria entering from outside (many causes)
- mucus entering the ureter (sexual intercourse, horse riding, cycling, any number of causes)
- blood entereing the ureter (period - blood on pads or tampon cords)
- Some believe that sexual abuse can cause cystitis as this would generally cause bacteria to enter from outside.
Kidney stones are a common disorder, more so in men, with multiple causes. They obstruct the urinary tract, and can cause infection. Passing kidney stones can be very painful. They can be detected with xrays, but blood and urine tests may also be required. Medication, diet, physical activity and a high water intake can help prevent kidney stone formation. Kidney stones may be removed by medication which dissolves them, or through surgery.