Renal Calculi

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Info & Treatments for Kidney Stones & Kidney Disease

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"Mild kidney failure" sounds like an oxymoron when you first think about it. Why not speak of "mild heart failure" or "mild brain damage" or of being "a little pregnant"? But in fact kidney disease, kidney failure, or renal failure is classified into two different diseases, acute and chronic kidney failure, and in its early stages chronic kidney failure is mild compared either to late-stage chronic kidney failure or acute kidney failure. "Mild kidney failure," then, refers to the early stage of chronic kidney failure or chronic kidney disease. Despite the "mild" part of the name, chronic kidney failure should definitely be taken seriously and treated appropriately.

Normal Kidney Function


The kidneys are bean-shaped organs each weighing about a quarter pound whose function is to filter impurities out of the blood and deposit them in the urine for ejection from the body. The kidneys are connected to the bladder by tubes called ureters. The bladder stores urine as it accumulates from the kidneys, and urine is ejected from the body when the bladder is full.

The kidneys perform their function mainly in the millions of filtering units in each kidney called nephrons. Without going into excessive detail, capillaries allow blood to seep into the nephrons where the blood is filtered and wastes and potentially dangerous chemicals are removed, along with excess water, and desirable substances retained. The kidneys process some 200 liters of blood each day and filter from this approximately two liters of urine.


Continued below....

Hormones


In addition to the main function of filtering impurities from the blood, the kidneys also produce a number of hormones and other important substances, including usable vitamin D and chemicals that stimulate the production of red blood cells and regulate blood volume and blood pressure.

Chronic Kidney Disease


Chronic kidney disease refers to a loss of kidney function that progresses over time. There are several differences between chronic and acute kidney disease. The most obvious difference is that acute kidney disease has a sudden onset, while
chronic kidney disease develops more slowly. In addition, usually acute kidney disease is reversible. The kidneys are able to repair themselves and restore functioning as they recover. Chronic kidney disease, however, involves loss of kidney function that is usually not reversible. The disease may be arrested with treatment involving lifestyle changes and sometimes with medication, but kidney function lost in chronic kidney disease can't be restored except by replacing the kidneys with a transplant.

Chronic kidney disease proceeds in five progressive stages of severity. Each stage has a description and also is characterized by measurement of the glomelular filtration rate (GFR) in mL/min/1.73 square meters, which is a measure of the kidneys' main function.


Stages


Stage 1 of chronic kidney disease is characterized by slight kidney damage with normal filtration rate or even slightly above normal. GFR is at 90 or above.

Stage 2 is associated with a mild decrease of kidney function and here for the first time we can speak of "mild kidney failure." In stage 2, GFR is measured at 60 to 89. Another term for this level of the disease is "renal insufficiency."

Stages 3 and above involve decreasing levels of kidney function until GFR drops below 15 in stage 5 and the kidneys are essentially nonfunctional; at this point one does not speak of "mild" kidney failure but of kidney failure, plain and simple, and it's time for dialysis and hopefully a kidney transplant.

When kidney disease progresses to the later stages, serious complications for health develop. The body retains water and accumulates waste substances to toxic levels, which endangers health in many ways. Dialysis may become necessary to stay alive. Because of this and the irreversible nature of the loss of kidney function in chronic kidney disease, it's very important to detect the disease in as early a stage as possible and treat it effectively.

Causes Of Chronic Kidney Disease


Chronic kidney disease is occasionally, but not usually, a primary illness of the kidneys themselves, which can arise from hereditary factors or infections. More frequently, kidney disease results as a secondary manifestation of other diseases, the most common of which are high blood pressure and diabetes. Other possible causes of kidney disease include atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), long-term use of analgesics such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, obstruction of urinary flow by kidney stones, an enlarged prostate, etc., HIV infection, sickle-cell disease, and heroin addiction.

The following is a list of
significant risk factors for chronic kidney disease:

Diabetes (type 1 or 2)
High blood pressure
High cholesterol
Heart disease
Liver disease
Sickle cell disease
Lupus
Frequent inflammation requiring treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs
Family history of kidney disease

How Common Is Kidney Disease


Chronic kidney disease afflicts approximately
15 percent of adults over the age of twenty, or one in seven people. Of people age 60 or older, 26 percent have stage 3 kidney disease or higher. Kidney disease in the U.S. is more common among African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian or Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans.


Mild Kidney Failure

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