The kidneys, a pair of vital organs that filter waste and water from our blood, are often afflicted with disease caused by a variety of problems. It is estimated that eight million Americans suffer from some kind of kidney problem. Depending on the severity of the condition, a kidney problem can be potentially fatal. However, some kidney problems are very common and easily treatable.
The most common acute kidney problem is kidney stones. Kidney stones result from a build up of chemicals, such as calcium phosphate and oxalate. These chemicals crystallize in the kidneys, forming stones that become quite painful. This type of kidney problem usually does not require medical treatment, as the stones eventually pass through the kidneys and are expelled by the urine.
Kidney stone sufferers are usually told to drink plenty of fluids to help the stones pass on their own. However, if kidney stones require medical treatment because of their size, the extreme pain they cause, or failure to pass on their own, various surgical techniques are performed to remove the stones. Medications can be prescribed to prevent this type of kidney problem if it is a chronic condition.
Another common kidney problem is infection. A kidney infection, also known as pyelonephritis, can have various causes, but most often, it is the result of a bladder or urinary tract infection that has gone untreated. The bacteria that cause a urinary tract infection can travel up the urethra into the kidneys. Treatment of a kidney infection includes tests to identify the type of bacteria that is responsible for the infection, followed by the appropriate antibiotics. Kidney infection should be treated as soon as possible to prevent lasting kidney damage.
Kidney problems are very common in those who suffer from diabetes. Diabetic kidney disease, or nephropathy, is the leading cause of kidney failure. This type of kidney problem is, unfortunately, only treated by attempting to slow end stage kidney failure through controlling blood pressure and weight and eating a special diet. When the kidneys reach the end stage, either dialysis or a kidney transplant is necessary to save the person’s life.
High blood pressure is another serious condition that may result in a kidney problem. In fact, it is the second leading cause of kidney failure. Because it is the kidneys’ job to filter blood, the increased force of blood as a result of high blood pressure places tremendous strain on the kidneys. Many people who suffer from this type of kidney problem, or from kidney disease associated with diabetes, do not experience symptoms until their kidneys have already begun to fail.
Fortunately, high blood pressure is easily detected with regular medical care. Because high blood pressure is associated with a number of potential life threatening complications, it is usually brought under control before the kidneys show signs of irreversible damage. Blood pressure is commonly treated with medications, stress reduction techniques, exercise, and a special attention to diet.
Pain in the lower back and/or flank area is the most common symptom of a kidney problem. Painful urination and the inability to urinate are also symptoms of a kidney problem. If you suspect that you have a kidney problem, it is important to seek immediate medical treatment to prevent life threatening complications.