The term “kidney disease” can refer to any type of condition that greatly reduces the functioning of the kidneys. Some forms of kidney disease are acute, which means that the damage is sudden and symptoms reveal themselves very quickly. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) means that the decline in the kidney function is slow and progressive. Many people live with CKD for years without being aware that the kidneys are the source of their health problems, as there are few or no symptoms in the initial stages of CKD.
Both types of kidney disease, chronic and acute, can be due to auto-immune disorders, ingested toxins that the kidney has been forced to try to filter out, pharmaceutical medications, or infections. Certain other diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, put extra stress on the kidneys and can cause them to function below par, eventually contributing to CKD.
One of the kidneys functions is to separate wastes, which we eliminate in our urine, from the important materials that need to be put back onto our bloodstream. Proteinuria, a result of many types of kidney disease, occurs when protein, mostly albumin, leaks out into the urine causing our protein levels in our blood to become too low. We need protein in our blood to keep fluid inside the blood vessels, and without it the fluid leaks into the tissues and blood is excreted through the urine. This is known as “nephritic syndrome”.
Chronic pyelonephritis is another common kidney ailment. It is a painful condition that happens when infection finds its way into the kidneys and causes chronic inflammation. Hematuria, the presence of blood in the urine, can result from this type of kidney infection.
Kidney stones can occur when a person has a buildup of too much calcium oxalate or uric acid in their urine, and it hardens into a crystal like stones that can be very painful to pass. Infections can occur with kidney stones as well, because the kidneys are not able to flush themselves out properly, causing a toxic environment where bacteria can readily grow.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, and the medications used to treat it, can cause kidney problems. A blockage of one or both arteries leading to the kidneys can develop, and the kidneys respond by releasing way too much of a chemical called vasopressin which causes the blood pressure to rise remarkably.
Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic disorder where cysts begin to form in the kidney. Some of the cysts do not cause any progressive kidney failure, and others, depending on their size and location within the kidney, can greatly get in the way of the kidney performing its proper filtration.
There is one primary kidney disease which is cancerous, and that is renal cell carcinoma. The cancer will probably cause pain or bleeding in the area of the kidneys. The good news is that this type of cancer is usually highly treatable.
Some types of kidney conditions are classified as auto-immune diseases. Berger’s disease happens when the patient’s immune system has set up antibodies that act on the tissues of the capillaries in the kidney. Berger’s disease is also known as IgA Nephropathy. Systemic lupus is another autoimmune disorder, and can cause the body to produce antibodies directed against the kidney membranes. In a normally functioning kidney, the filtering membranes do not permit albumin and other blood proteins to be excreted in the urine. However, with systemic lupus, the filtering membranes are disrupted, resulting in protein in the urine.
As you can see, there are many types of kidney disease. But on a positive note, the large number of varied treatments available gives us a wide range of choices to restore health to our body’s filtration system. There are many herbs and nutritional supplements available that have been shown to improve kidney health during both chronic and acute kidney disease. Unlike the pharmaceutical drugs available these do not have any side effects and do not contribute to kidney damage while treating symptoms. Natural therapies can also treat the cause of kidney damage, offering long-term protection for your kidneys.