10 Signs You Might Have Kidney Disease

Your Kidneys

The kidneys are a pair of organs located on either side of your spine, just above your waist. These organs are four to five inches long, and their function is to filter impurities from the blood, balance electrolytes in your body, and control blood pressure.

The waste products that the kidneys filter from the blood are then excreted through the urine. The two main waste products are urea and sodium. Urea is a waste product of protein metabolism, and constitutes about half of the waste products present in the urine. Sodium is an essential mineral that you get from your diet, and excess amounts are excreted. Other waste products include ammonia, uric acid, oxalate, and various minerals.

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Additional Functions

Electrolytes are necessary to the body. These are minerals that let cells carry electrical impulses to other cells; for example, in nerve and muscle tissue. The kidneys maintain the right balance of electrolytes so that these tissues can function properly.

The blood pressure in your body depends on many factors. However, the kidneys are able to influence it by causing blood vessels to constrict and increasing the amount of blood circulating.

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What Causes Chronic Kidney Disease?

There are about one million filters, or nephrons, in each of your kidneys. Damaged nephrons stop doing their job. When enough nephrons have been damaged, your kidneys can’t filter your blood well enough for you to stay healthy.

When your kidneys haven’t been functioning properly for more than three months, you have chronic kidney disease. This is a serious condition, due to the lack of symptoms in earlier stages as well as the serious complications. Chronic kidney disease is a medical problem that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible, especially considering that kidney damage often can’t be repaired.

The most common causes are diabetes (both types) and high blood pressure. Immune system conditions are another common culprit, such as lupus and AIDS. Other possible causes include hepatitis B, hepatitis C, recurrent urinary tract infections, and kidney damage caused by drug abuse.

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Possible Complications

Chronic kidney disease can cause serious complications, including but not limited to:

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10 Signs You Should See a Doctor

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10 Signs You Should See a Doctor Pt.2

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10 Signs You Should See a Doctor Pt.3

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10 Signs You Should See a Doctor Pt.4

If you experience any of these symptoms of kidney disease, especially a combination of two or more, you should talk to your doctor. If you have chronic kidney disease and are experiencing symptoms, this means the disease has already progressed fairly far and requires immediate medical attention. You can lose up to 90% of your kidney function before you start experiencing symptoms, so address all symptoms as soon as they arise.

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Other Kidney Problems to Be Aware Of

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How to Reduce Your Risk

The rate of chronic kidney disease is highest among Native Americans, Asian Americans, and most especially African Americans. Being age 65 or older greatly increases your risk, as does having a family history of kidney disease. According to the CDC, about 1 in 10 Americans has some level of chronic kidney disease. Fortunately, there are many effective ways to reduce your risk for kidney problems. These include:

Manage and prevent all underlying conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, and heart disease.

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