Kidney Disease in Simple Language

Kidney Disease in Simple Language
Dr. Nancy Qusba Emergency Physician Downers Grove, IL

Dr. Nancy Qusba M.D. is a top Emergency Physician in Downers Grove, IL. With a passion for the field and an unwavering commitment to their specialty, Dr. Nancy Qusba M.D. is an expert in changing the lives of their patients for the better. Through their designated cause and expertise in the field, Dr. Nancy Qusba M.D.... more

I have chosen the topic of kidney disease because it has affected me personally, and therefore I can relate to anyone that is either suffering from kidney disease or has a family member that has it.  My uncle suffered from kidney disease for a long time and was never diagnosed with it. Ultimately, however, the disease had progressed to a stage where it was too late to manage medically and was the reason for the transplant. There are two fairly-common medical conditions that have been shown to strongly correlate to kidney disease. The first medical condition occurs when complications of sore throat or skin infections, caused by (Group A B-hemolytic Streptococcus).  If left untreated, it can lead to Acute rheumatic fever, acute poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis, that later can lead to renal failure or mitral valvular disease. These are very prevalent in less-developed countries.

Kidneys are like filters. Kidneys that are working properly have the ability to filter metabolic waste products from the blood, and they also control the salt and the water distribution in the body. They maintain the levels of electrolytes like sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphate, and acid in the blood. The kidneys also have the ability to produce sufficient calcitriol, which plays a major role in bone growth, and erythropoietin harmone that controls red blood cell production.

Kidney function can affect people of all ages, but is definitely more common in older adults than in young people. Many of the kidney functions can be treated though certain diseases can lead to a rapid decline of the kidneys function and need immediate care, blood and urine tests, ultrasonography, and sometimes a kidney biopsy is done.

With advancing kidney disease there is an accumulation of chemicals (waste products) in the blood, and they can damage nerve cells (neuropathy). There is decreased production of Red Blood Count (RBC), often leading to anemia. The uric acids may rise, resulting in possibly gout, low serum calcium, and phosphate increases. The potassium in the blood is often normal, or only slightly elevated. Sodium and water may accumulate in the body, thus resulting in high blood pressure, and heart failure. Typically, there are also a few noticeably abnormalities in the earlier stages of kidney disease.  This is because the remaining kidney tissue increases its performance. Symptoms of kidney disease typically develop slowly loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, increased urination during the night, decreased mental acuity, muscle twitches and cramps, water retention, nerve pains, and seizures. 

Diagnosis of kidney disease is based on laboratory testing of renal function complete blood count, comprehensive metabolic panel, sometimes followed by a renal biopsy if necessary.

The treatment of kidney disease is primarily directed at the underlying condition but can include; fluid and electrolyte management, and a reduction of dietary protein, phosphate, and potassium. Treat hypertriglyceridemia with gemfibrozil. Anemia is treated by erythropoietin, or intravenously iron to combat iron deficiency. We also can give blood transfusion if necessary. Calcitriol helps to raise the serum Ca level. Doses of all drugs are adjusted as needed. Conservative management often will prolong a useful life. When the drug treatment for chronic kidney disease is no longer effective, the only options is long-term dialysis and  kidney transplant.