The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located just under the ribcage on either side of the spine. These vital organs continually clean the blood, filtering out toxins and excess fluids and eliminating the waste products from the body in the form of urine. Kidney disease occurs when one or both kidneys become damaged and do not function properly.
Types and Causes of Kidney Disease
Chronic Kidney Disease
A gradual loss of kidney function that occurs over time, chronic kidney disease is often caused by high blood pressure, which can damage the glomeruli—clusters of tiny blood vessels that filter the blood. As the damage worsens, kidney function declines. Another common cause of chronic kidney disease is diabetes, which causes high blood sugar levels. Excess sugar in the blood can damage the glomeruli, leading to renal insufficiency.
Glomerulonephritis occurs when the glomeruli become irritated, inflamed and damaged. The glomeruli filter excess fluids and waste products from the blood. Possible causes include diabetes, lupus and infection, such as strep throat.
Polycystic Kidney Disease
A genetic condition, polycystic kidney disease causes clusters of fluid-filled sacs (cysts) to form in the kidneys. The cysts can cause the kidneys to become enlarged and interfere with their function, sometimes leading to renal insufficiency or end-stage renal failure.
Kidney stones are hard masses that form in the kidneys when the urine is highly concentrated. Undiluted crystal-forming substances in the urine—such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid—can bind together and form “stones.” There is no single, definite cause of kidney stones. Contributing factors include dehydration and excessive consumption of salt or sugar.
Urinary Tract Infections
A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria (usually from the skin or rectum) enter the urethra and invade the bladder. Most UTIs resolve with antibiotic treatment. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the kidneys and potentially cause kidney damage or end-stage renal failure.
Symptoms of Kidney Disease
The early warning signs of kidney disease can include:
- Unexplained fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep disruption
- Poor appetite
- Muscle cramps
- Swollen ankles and feet
- Facial puffiness, especially in the morning
- Dry, itchy skin
- Frequent urination, especially during the night
Diagnosis of Kidney Disease
If renal insufficiency is suspected, a physician will typically order one or more tests to evaluate the kidneys and their function, such as:
- Glomerular filtration rate (GFR)
- Albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR)
- Computed tomography (CT) scan
Treatments for Kidney Disease
In many cases, kidney disease treatment involves lifestyle changes and medication to control the underlying cause. In the case of end-stage renal failure, dialysis or a kidney transplant may be required.
Tampa General Hospital is proud to offer the latest diagnostic and treatment options for kidney disease. Our multidisciplinary team includes surgeons, nephrologists, endocrinologists, dieticians and other specialists who have years of experience and a steadfast dedication to providing world-class patient care.