What Causes Kidney Disease?

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According to the National Kidney Foundation, one in nine, or approximately 26 million, adults in the U.S. have kidney disease. Those at high risk of developing this condition include African Americans, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics and Native Americans. The progression of chronic kidney disease to kidney failure may be slowed by initiating treatment in the early stages of the disease. Therefore, it is advantageous to understand some of the possible causes of kidney disease.

Certain people are more predisposed to getting kidney disease.
Certain people are more predisposed to getting kidney disease.

High Blood Pressure

This is a “chicken or the egg” type situation. High blood pressure can cause kidney disease and kidney disease can cause high blood pressure. At any rate, should it be determined that you have hypertension, or high blood pressure, it is advisable to that you should have your kidney function checked regularly. In high blood pressure, blood is forced through the arteries at a higher than normal pressure. This increased pressure can cause damage to walls of the arteries in the kidneys, leading to the kidneys not being able to filter the blood effectively. The damage is permanent and can progress to the point where the kidney is no longer functional, or kidney failure.

Those with high blood pressure are more likely to also have kidney disease.
Those with high blood pressure are more likely to also have kidney disease.

Diabetes

Diabetes causes damage to the blood vessels of the kidneys as well. In untreated or uncontrolled diabetes, this damage occurs at a much faster rate. Just as with kidney disease caused by high blood pressure, the damage of the blood vessels in the kidneys leads to the kidneys not effectively filtering the blood. Diabetes can also cause nerve damage throughout the body. When the nerves of the urinary bladder are damaged, the ability to urinate is hindered and causes the retention of urine in the bladder. Eventually, the retained urine backs up into the kidneys and the additional pressure can damage kidney tissue and structures.

Diabetes damages the blood vessels of the kidneys.
Diabetes damages the blood vessels of the kidneys.

Infection

Pyelonephritis, or kidney infection, is usually caused by bacteria originating in the bladder. Kidney infections may occur as a complication after surgery, or due to a blockage which causes urine to be retained. An overgrowth of bacteria can occur in the retained urine, causing an infection. Pyelonephritis can cause damage to the tissues of the kidney; the amount of damage is related to the severity and the frequency of infection. This permanent damage can cause kidney disease.

Kidney infection is usually caused by bacteria originating in the bladder.
Kidney infection is usually caused by bacteria originating in the bladder.

Pain Medication

Analgesic nephropathy is kidney disease caused by pain medication. It typically occurs in those who abuse pain medications or have been on them for a long time. Women over 30 are the most common sufferers. It potentially will affect 1 in 100,000 Americans. If you are taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) daily, you will want to discuss the risk of developing kidney disease with your physician.

Those that frequently take Tyelenol or Advil and Motrin are at higher risk of developing kidney disease.
Those that frequently take Tyelenol or Advil and Motrin are at higher risk of developing kidney disease.

Considerations

Some forms of kidney disease are hereditary. Should you have someone in your family with kidney disease, it would be a good idea to have your kidney function checked periodically, as early kidney disease typically does not present with symptoms. The trigger for developing kidney disease may not be clear in these cases. However, measures should be taken to prevent or control those know risk factors, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

Some forms of kidney disease are hereditary and you should have your kidney function checked periodically.
Some forms of kidney disease are hereditary and you should have your kidney function checked periodically.

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