What Is Renal Disease?
The Renals are two organs located in your midsection on either side of your spine in the middle of your back, just above the waist. They clean your blood, keep the balance of salt and minerals in your blood, and help control blood pressure.
When your Renals are damaged, waste products and fluid can build up in your body, causing swelling in your ankles, vomiting, weakness, poor sleep, and shortness of breath. If you don’t treat them, diseased Renals may eventually stop working completely. Loss of Renal function is a serious — and potentially fatal — condition.
Maintain a balance of water and minerals, such as sodium, potassium, and phosphorus, in your blood
Remove waste by-products from your blood after digestion, muscle activity, and exposure to chemicals or medications
▪ Make renin, an enzyme that helps regulate blood pressure
▪ Make erythropoietin, which stimulates red blood cell production
▪ Make an active form of vitamin D, needed for bone health
What Causes Acute Renal Injury?
Doctors call the sudden loss of Renal function “acute Renal injury” or “acute renal failure” (ARF). It has three main causes:
▪ Lack of blood flow to the Renals
▪ Direct damage to the Renals themselves
▪ Urine backed up in the Renals
These can happen when you:
▪ Have a traumatic injury with blood loss
▪ Are dehydrated
▪ Go into shock during a severe infection called sepsis
▪ Have a blocked urine flow, which can happen with an enlarged prostate
▪ Take specific drugs or are around certain toxins
▪ Get complications with a pregnancy, such as eclampsia and pre-eclampsia, or related HELLP Syndrome
Marathon runners and other athletes who don’t drink enough fluids while competing in long-distance endurance events may get acute renal failure because of a sudden breakdown of muscle tissue. This releases a large amount of protein into the bloodstream called myoglobin that can damage the Renals.
What Causes Chronic Renal Disease?
Renals that don’t work well for longer than 3 months is called chronic Renal disease (CKD). It’s dangerous, because you may not have any symptoms until a lot of damage, that often can’t be repaired, has happened.
Diabetes (types 1 and 2) and high blood pressure are the most common causes.
Immune system diseases, such as lupus, and long-term viral illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, can also cause problems.
Urinary tract infections within the Renals themselves, called pyelonephritis, can lead to scarring as the infection heals. Multiple episodes can lead to Renal damage.
You could have inflammation in the tiny filters (glomeruli) within your Renals. This can happen after a strep infection.
Polycystic Renal disease, where fluid-filled cysts form in your Renals, is the most common type of inherited Renal disease.
Defects present at birth are often the result of a urinary tract obstruction or malformation that affects the Renals. One of the most common involves a kind of valve between the bladder and urethra. These defects, sometimes found while a baby is still in the womb, can often be repaired with surgery by a urologist.
Drugs and toxins, including long-term use of some medications, such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen and naproxen, and intravenous “street” drugs can permanently damage your Renals. So can being around certain chemicals over time.
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