Healthy kidneys are essential to having a healthy body. They filter the blood and remove excess water, waste, and impurities from our bodies while regulating pH, salt, and potassium levels. They also activate vitamin D to help absorb calcium, control red blood cell production, and produce hormones that regulate blood pressure.
Since kidneys do so much for your body, any interference in kidney function can lead to kidney disease. Around 26 million American adults suffer from kidney diseases at any given time. This blog will discuss the five most common types of kidney diseases and how they’re caused.
1. Polycystic Kidney Disease
Polycystic kidney disease, also known as PKD, is a genetic ailment that causes several cysts to develop inside the kidneys. Cysts are tiny fluid sacs that can hamper kidney function and ultimately lead to complete kidney failure. Abnormal genes are the #1 cause of polycystic kidney disease which means that in most cases, the disease runs in the family. However, in some circumstances, the genetic mutation also occurs on its own when neither parent has a copy of the mutated gene.
2. Kidney Stones
Another prevalent kidney problem is kidney stones. These are solid masses that develop when minerals and other substances found in the blood begin to crystallize inside the kidneys. In mild cases, kidney stones usually come out of the body via urine. Passing kidney stones in urine can be extremely painful, but they rarely cause significant damage to kidney function. In more severe cases, a doctor might suggest an endoscopic procedure or surgery to remove the stones.
3. Chronic Kidney Disease
One of the most popular types of kidney diseases is chronic kidney disease. It is a long-term disease that usually does not improve with time. It is generally caused by high blood pressure. High blood pressure hampers kidney function by increasing the pressure on the glomeruli – the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys where blood is filtered. Over time, the increased pressure on these vessels damages them, and the kidneys start to deteriorate. Sometimes, this disease is also caused by diabetes because increased blood sugar levels can also damage the glomeruli with time.
4. Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are infections that can occur in any part of the urinary system. Infections in the urethra and the bladder are the most common. They are caused by bacteria entering the urinary system. Fortunately, UTIs are easily treatable and rarely lead to additional health problems. However, if you leave a UTI untreated, the infection can spread to your kidneys and eventually cause kidney failure.
Glomerulonephritis is a disease that causes inflammation of the glomeruli (blood vessels). It is usually caused by infections or congenital abnormalities (disorders that occur shortly after or during birth). It often gets better on its own without any treatment. However, secondary glomerulonephritis is caused by another disease, such as diabetes, lupus, infection, or drug use, and might need medical intervention.