World Kidney Day – The basics of kidney

Kidneys are the most important organs of the body. They work 24/7 to keep your blood clean. They are the filtering units of blood in our bodies. Kidneys can malfunction or stop working properly due to several reasons like chronic kidney diseases or acute renal injury. Kidney malfunctioning can pose a threat to the overall functioning of the body.

World Kidney Day is celebrated every year on 10th March to spread awareness of the role kidneys play in the overall health of a person’s body and how to maintain its healthy status.

 

How does the Kidney work?

Kidneys are bean-shaped organs located in the lower posterior part of the abdomen. They filter the blood and remove the unwanted impurities in form of urine. The organs maintain the PH balance of blood and the appropriate amount of fluid levels in the blood.

Each kidney consists of pyramid-like structures called nephrons. They are the functional unit of the kidney. Each nephron consists of Bowman’s capsule that performs the first step of blood filtration.

 

What are the problems affecting kidneys?

Kidney disorders are mainly categorized into two segments. Acute kidney injury (AKI) and Chronic kidney disease (CKD). Approximately 800 million people are affected with CKD while the incidents of End-stage Renal disease is 150–200 per million.

Acute Kidney Injury (AKI)

In Acute Kidney injury, there is a sudden loss of kidney function within a few days or hours. The kidney functioning stops abruptly inducing the need for dialysis.

What Causes AKI?

AKI can be caused due to any of the reasons:-

1)       Decreased blood flow – Due to any reason the blood flow to the kidney decreases, the rate at which your kidney filters blood decreases. The urine formation decreases and you will suffer from less urine output. It also results in the kidney getting damaged as the necessary blood is not flowing into the kidney.

2)       Damage to Kidneys- Cancer, Infection like sepsis, narrowing of blood vessels, and many more reason causes direct damage to the kidney which can lead to AKI.

3)       Blockage of the urinary tract- Your urinary tract can be blocked because of Enlarged prostate, Cancer, or kidney stones. This causes damage to the kidney as the urine passing becomes difficult. 

 

Acute Kidney Injury Treatment

AKI treatment depends upon the underlying cause. If you are suffering from AKI you might already be in the hospital. Your doctor would do tests to figure out the cause and treat you accordingly. Such treatments can include:-

1) Balancing the amount of fluids. A nephrologist specialist may recommend you diuretics for this purpose based on your diagnosis.

2) Medicines to control blood pressure and keep the balance of electrolytes in the blood.

3) Dialysis- In extreme case of AKI when the kidney has collapsed, Dialysis would be required. Dialysis is done through a machine with the help of a dialyzer. A dialysis machine filters blood just like a kidney does. Every week 3 times, you might have to do dialysis in order to keep your blood clean and filtered. What are the symptoms of AKI?

a dialysis room with a dialysis machine which act as a artificial kidney
Hemodialysis Room with dialysis machine

 

Common symptoms of AKI:-

1) Less urine excretion.

2) Swellings in leg, ankles.

3) Nausea

4) Tiredness

 

Chronic kidney disease ( CKD)

Unlike AKI, CKD does not occur suddenly. CKD is a progressive but irreversible loss of function of the kidney.

 Acute Kidney InjuryChronic Kidney Disease
TypeSuddenSlow and progressive
CureReversibleIrreversible
TreatmentBalancing fluids, DialysisDialysis , transplant, diuretics
CausesDecreased Blood flow,  Damages to kidneyDiabetes , Hypertension
SymptomsLess Urine excretion, NauseaMuscle cramping, high blood pressure

 

Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease

1) Diabetes

2) Hypertension or high blood pressure

3) Glomerulonephritis- When kidney filtering units which are nephrons get damaged, kidney is not able to perform its function properly leading to CKD.

 

What are the symptoms of CKD?

Common symptoms of CKD:-

1)       High blood pressure

2)       Loss of appetite

3)       Muscle cramping

4)       Sleep issues

5)       Vomiting

6)       Dry skin

7)       Swelling in feet.

 

Treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease

Depending on which stage your CKD is, these are the common treatments that are given:-

1) High blood pressure medicines. Nephrology doctors would give people who are suffering from CKD  medicines to control their blood pressure.

2) Maintaining the amount of fluids in the body. In CKD excess fluid can cause swelling. Nephrologist specialist generally gives diuretics to maintain the balance of fluids in the body.

3) In severe cases, dialysis is required. Kidney nephrologists provide excellent kidney dialysis. If the patient does not want to go for repetitive dialysis then kidney transplantation is required.

 

Kidney Stones

Kidney stone are formed due to chemicals like calcium, oxalate, etc. Kidney stone is a condition in which these chemicals form together to form stone-like structure. Depending on the size of stone formed, when the stone size is small and can pass through the ureter, your doctor would most likely recommend pain killers to sustain the pain when the stone goes through the ureter & out of your body.

However, problem arises when the stone is large in size and cannot pass through the ureter. As a result, when the stone gets stuck in the ureter, it causes deep pain to a person. Also because of this, the flow of urine decreases or in extreme cases stops. This can aggravate the chances of CKD also.  

 

What Causes Kidney stones?

These are some common causes of kidney stones:-

1)       Drinking less water

2)       Obesity

3)       Eating food high in sugar and salt

4)       Family history

5)       Infections

 

What are its symptoms?

These are the common symptoms of Kidney stones:-

1)       A deep pain originating from the back and going to the ureter in the front part of the body.

2)       Blood in urine

3)       Urine that smells bad and is cloudy

4)       Vomiting 

Woman holding her back in pain that has arisen becuase of kidney stone
Woman holding her back in pain that arises because of kidney stone.

 

Treatment of Kidney Stones

1) Shockwave lithotripsy- This is a type of kidney stone treatment without surgery. In this treatment, high-energy waves are targeted at the stone and the stone is broken down into small passable pieces, which can pass through the ureter and out of the body.

2) Ureteroscopy- It is a kidney stone treatment surgery where a small tube called Ureteroscope is inserted through the urethra, up to the ureter, and where the kidney stone is located. The kidney stones are broken up by a laser fiber into smaller pieces that are easily passable from the ureter.

3)  Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy – It is a kidney stone treatment surgery where the doctors make a cut at your backside and insert a tube in the kidney. Using that tube, the stone is broken into small pieces.

 

How to keep the Kidneys healthy?

1)       Drink lots of fluid. This will help you in preventing kidney stone formation.

2)       Stop Smoking. Smoking leads to slow blood flow and harms kidneys.

3)       Maintain your blood glucose level. In diabetes, when glucose is high in the blood, the kidney has to work more to filter that glucose. Over a long period of time, this extra work damages kidneys.

4)       Exercise. This one is no surprise. Exercise helps in decreasing the risk of CKD and also helps in maintaining blood pressure. Both are important for kidney health.

5)       Don’t take over-the-top medication without consulting a doctor as in the long term it can harm kidney functioning.

 

Kidneys are an important part of your body. They help in maintaining the proper functioning of our body. They not remove the waste but also helps in making hormones. It becomes necessary to preserve the organs by proper care and regular checkups.

If you have prevailing chronic kidney disorders, you must visit a kidney specialist and get regular checkups.

Listen to experts docotrs at Nirmal hospital talk about World Kidney Day:-