What is kidney disease?
Your kidneys are responsible for filtering excess fluid and waste from the blood, to be disposed of in your urine. Kidney disease occurs when the kidneys can no longer filter these substances on their own, leading to dangerously high levels of fluid, electrolytes and wastes building up in the body. This can result in serious complications that can sometimes be fatal. With March being National Kidney Month, it’s important to understand the risk factors associated with kidney disease.

Symptoms of kidney disease
Early stages of kidney disease may only exhibit a few signs or symptoms. Because of this, your kidney function may already be significantly impaired without your knowledge. Symptoms develop over time and may include:

  • Nausea
  • Appetite loss
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Urine changes
  • Inhibited mental function
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle cramps and twitches
  • Foot and ankle swelling
  • Constant itching
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hiccups

Symptoms and signs of kidney disease can be nonspecific, which means they can also be the result of other conditions. And because the kidneys are resilient and able to compensate for impaired function, signs and symptoms may not appear until irreversible damage has occurred.

Are you at risk?
There are a number of risk factors associated with kidney disease. Kidney disease is often the result of another disease or condition that impairs kidney function, with damage worsening over time. Diseases and conditions that can increase your risk for kidney disease are:

  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the kidney’s filters)
  • Interstitial nephritis (inflammation of the kidney’s tubules and surrounding structures)
  • Vesicoureteral reflux (urine backup in the kidneys)
  • Recurrent kidney infections (pyelonephritis)
  • Prolonged urinary tract blockage caused by conditions like kidney stones, enlarged prostate, and some cancers

Further, there are other factors that can increase your risk of developing kidney disease. These factors include:

  • Family history of kidney disease
  • 65 years of age or older
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol
  • Ethnic backgrounds such as African-American, Native American or Asian-American

Treating kidney disease
Complications resulting from kidney disease can be severe and even fatal. Your treatment will depend on the cause and severity of your individual case. In less severe cases, kidney disease complications can be controlled to make you more comfortable. In more advanced stages of kidney disease, your kidneys can no longer keep up with waste and fluid clearance on their own. At this phase, more aggressive treatments are used, such as dialysis and kidney transplants.

The physicians and staff at South Texas Renal Care Group are committed to the health and treatment of your kidneys. If you have recently been diagnosed with kidney disease, or are experiencing symptoms of kidney disease call (210) 390-0944 to schedule an appointment today.