Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose or blood sugar is above normal. Blood glucose is our body’s main source of energy that comes from the food we eat. Our pancreas makes a hormone known as ‘Insulin’, which enables glucose from the food we eat, to get into our cells, to be used for energy. When the body fails to make insulin or makes insulin that is inadequate for the body, or doesn’t utilise insulin effectively, glucose remains in the blood and does not reach the cells.

Diabetes is a serious condition and must not be ignored. It has no cure, but can be managed with medication, regulated diet, exercise, and changes in lifestyle. Today, the world over, diabetes is a leading cause of kidney failure.

Hypertension

Hypertension, known popularly as high blood pressure (BP), is caused due to the force of blood pushing against the walls of the artery. High BP is harmful as it can lead to the risk of developing heart disease.

BP is determined by the amount of blood the heart pumps, and the amount of resistance there is to the blood flow in the arteries. When the heart pumps more blood, the arteries get narrower, raising your blood pressure.

Many of you may have had high blood pressure (hypertension) for many years before it is detected. Meanwhile, during these years, high BP would have slowly and silently damaged your blood vessels, even though your heart seems to be working fine. Such high blood pressure that is uncontrolled (for which you have not taken medicines to manage) puts you at great risk of having a sudden heart attack or a stroke. High BP affects nearly everyone eventually.

You must know that high blood pressure can be easily detected by a simple method by your local/family physician. Once detected, high BP can be controlled with your doctor’s advice.

Check where your blood pressure lies from this chart.

Glomerulonephritis

Glomerulonephritis is inflammation of glomeruli, the tiny filters in the kidney that do all the filtration work.  Though we know that this condition is often caused by problems in the immune system, the exact cause is unknown. Due to the damage in the glomeruli, some blood and protein spill into the urine.

Common symptoms are:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Foamy urine
  • Swelling of the face, eyes, feet, legs, and abdomen

Glomerulonephritis can occur as a result of some illness:

  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Strep throat
  • Goodpasture syndrome

Inherited Diseases

The two most common genetic diseases are Polycystic Kidney Disease and Alport Syndrome. These diseases are inherited, which means that it is passed down in families.

Polycystic Kidney Disease

This genetic disorder involves the growth of cysts in your kidney. As cysts grow in number and size, they occupy the kidney’s functioning area and slowly lead to kidney failure. Since the disease is inherited, you and some of your siblings may be affected.

  • Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD is part of PKD family): If one of your parents had it, there is a 50% chance that you will inherit it. About 10% of people get it even without a family history. Your healthy kidney is about the size of your fist; however, with cysts, it can grow to the size of a football.
  • Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease (ARPKD is part of PKD family): You have a 25% chance of getting this disease if your parents had ARPKD; 50% will not get it but will be carriers, and 25% will be unaffected.
Alport Syndrome

Alport syndrome is a rare genetic disorder caused by mutations in genes, which will progress into kidney disease. The affected person will also face hearing loss and abnormalities in vision over a period of time. Your disease may be one of the three genetic types.

  1. X-linked Alport syndrome (XLAS) is the most common.
    If you’re a female with XLAS, you may not develop reduced kidney function until much later in life. Though some females may not face kidney failure at all, at an advanced age, there will be a risk.
    If you’re a male, this type is likely to affect you more severely than it would affect a female. Most untreated males will develop kidney failure by this age:
    1. 25 years – about 50%
    2. 40 years – 90%
    3. 60 years – 100%
  2. Autosomal recessive Alport Syndrome (ARAS) the severity of the disease is similar among both males and females. It develops during the teenage years or early adulthood.
  3. Autosomal dominant form (ADAS), the third type, affects males and females with equal severity. Early indications of this disease are:
    1. blood in the urine (hematuria) early in life
    2. progressive decline in kidney function, in adulthood
    3. finally ends in kidney failure, especially in affected males

If you notice an early symptom, get a professional diagnosis to identify Alport syndrome. If identified, it can only be treated symptomatically with medications that can delay both the progression of kidney disease and kidney failure. You may ultimately need a kidney transplant.

Kidney Obstructions

Whenever something blocks the flow of urine through a ureter, it is a kidney obstruction. The most common cause of kidney obstruction is a kidney stone. Other causes include structural abnormalities, blood clots, tumors and the shifting of a Kidney obstruction causes a partial or total blockage of urine drainage. This causes urine to collect in the affected ureter and partially back up into the kidney, resulting in urinary tract infection (UTI). The other reason for UTI is due to bacterial growth.

Repeated UTI can harm kidneys even when treated by antibiotics. One must take UTI’s seriously, meet a doctor for the right tests and treatments. If the UTI is persistent, one must discuss with the doctor about prolonged antibiotic treatment so that the kidneys are not affected. Ignoring UTI’s could prove to be dangerous. It could lead to kidney failure.

Nephrotic Syndrome

This condition is commonly found more in men than in women. Children between two and six years of age can also be detected with nephrotic syndrome mainly due to:

  1. minimal change disease
  2. diabetes

As an adult, you may be at risk of getting nephrotic syndrome as a result of:

  1. FSGS, lupus, or diabetes
  2. taking medicines like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) or antibiotics
  3. having an infection such as HIV, hepatitis B, and C, or malaria

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