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    When disease strikes your kidneys and they can’t perform their job, you’re at risk for serious health problems that even put your life at risk. Instead of taking your kidneys for granted, read on to learn more about the various forms of kidney disease. Read >>
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Health and Fitness News

Kidneys Gone Bad

Take care of your kidneys. You’ve only got two.

Your kidneys are one of those essential organs you can’t expect to live without for long. Each about the size of your fist, these two bean-shaped organs are found on either side of the spine below your rib cage. Their important job is to filter your blood, removing waste and extra fluids while keeping the composition of the blood stable for healthy functioning. The kidneys are responsible for regulating electrolytes (calcium, sodium, phosphorus, and potassium) and producing hormones that make blood cells, control blood pressure, and protect bone strength.

When disease strikes your kidneys and they can’t perform their job, you’re at risk for serious health problems that even put your life at risk. Instead of taking your kidneys for granted, read on to learn more about the various forms of kidney disease.

Chronic Kidney Disease

Have high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes? Then you’re at serious risk for chronic kidney disease, the most common type of kidney disease. Once you’re diagnosed with the disease, you have it for life. When affected by chronic kidney disease, the kidneys slowly lose their ability to filter blood, causing toxins to build up in your body. The ultimate end is kidney failure unless treatment is sought.

Early stages of chronic kidney disease often go undetected. As the disease progresses, you may experience swelling in your legs, feet, hands, and face, chest pain, frequent night urination, fatigue, loss of appetite, dry skin, muscle cramps, and headaches. Have some of these symptoms that aren’t going away? Get it checked!

Kidney Stones

Unless you’ve ever passed a kidney stone, you can’t understand how painful one can be. Even women testify that getting rid of a kidney stone is more painful than childbirth. Rarely harmful, these kidney stones form when minerals and other blood substances form small crystals. And while they may not be harmful, they cause immense, intense pain when they eventually make their way out of your body through urination. All kidney stones are not created the same though. Some small stones may pass unnoticed while passing larger stones causes extreme pain.

Infections

Urinary tract infections that start in the bladder or urethra can spread to the kidneys if left untreated. When bacteria cause a kidney infection, you may have a fever; pain in your back, groin, or sides; frequent urination that may burn; and vomiting. Because of their anatomy, women are at a greater risk for kidney infections than men. A round of antibiotics should be enough to clear up an infection. It’s important to receive treatment promptly to avoid kidney damage.

Polycystic Kidney Disease

Many people develop kidney cysts (fluid-filled sacs) that are harmless or go undetected, but some people are genetically predisposed to polycystic kidney disease. This disorder causes multiple cysts to grow in the kidneys that hinder proper function and can lead to kidney failure. Until the cysts grow to a large size, they generally cause no symptoms. Cysts over a half-inch in diameter may cause blood in the urine; pain in the sides, back, or abdomen; frequent urination; kidney stones; fatigue; or a predisposition to bruising. Treatment focuses on controlling the side effect of high blood pressure. In rare cases, surgery may be required.

Glomerulonephritis

A fifth common kidney condition is one that affects the glomeruli, the tiny structures that filter the blood. Inflammation of glomeruli is known as glomerulonephritis. Caused by drugs, infections, or other abnormalities, glomerulonephritis can happen on its own or along with another disease such as diabetes or lupus. Sometimes the condition occurs suddenly, other times it comes on gradually. Symptoms may include pink, brown, or foamy urine; fluid retention; or high blood pressure. Treatment will depend on the type, cause, and severity of your glomerulonephritis.