Your body has two kidneys, each about the size of a fist and located on either side of the spine at the lowest level of the rib cage. These vital organs perform several important bodily functions. First and foremost, kidneys act as your "clean sweep" system, clearing your body of waste and excess fluid. As your blood gets circulated throughout your body, it passes through the kidneys for cleansing.
The kidneys also produce hormones that help other organs function, regulating things like blood pressure and stimulating the production of red blood cells. They even produce a form of vitamin D that helps to build strong bones. If that weren't enough, the kidneys regulate the electrolytes in your body, keeping them in a fine balance that promotes healthy functioning of other organs.
Kidney disease is defined as having some type of kidney abnormality or decreased kidney function (including problems with blood cleansing) for three months or longer.
The following conditions can damage kidney tissue and cause kidney disease:
There are several types of kidney disease. As a result, there is no defining list of symptoms someone may experience if they develop kidney problems.
Some symptoms may include:
Pain is usually not associated with kidney disease, though it has been known to occur in the lower back and groin.
If you experience any symptoms or suspect you may have something wrong, see you doctor immediately. The most common way to test for kidney disease is through a urine test administered by a general practitioner. Once you have a diagnosis, you can work with your doctor on a treatment plan.
While kidney infections can easily be treated with medication or diet modification (for example, eating less salt and protein until the kidneys can function properly again), treating acute or chronic kidney failure is more difficult.
With acute kidney disease, which develops suddenly, treating the underlying cause will help; for example, if you have high blood pressure, alter your lifestyle to lower blood pressure.
Chronic kidney failure may be the result of long-term damage to the kidneys. In this case, dialysis or a kidney transplant is necessary.
Kidney disease is preventable, but it requires you to take care of yourself and follow a healthy lifestyle.
Here are a few effective ways to prevent kidney disease:
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