THE KIDNEYS & KIDNEY FAILURE
The kidneys are bean shaped organs found in the back of the body, just above the waist. Each of the two kidneys is about the size of a fist. They have several functions that are critical to health and life. The kidneys:
• Help regulate blood pressure,
• Help maintain the chemical and fluid balance of the body,
• Help get rid of excess waste products and extra fluid,
• Help tell the body when red blood cells are needed.
• Waste products and extra fluids are filtered from the blood as it passes though the kidneys. Filtered waste products and fluid are gotten rid of in the urine. The kidneys reabsorb or save other elements that the body needs.
Kidney failure is when the kidneys are unable to function enough to maintain life. Different diseases or injuries can cause kidney failure. Some possible causes of kidney failure are:
• Long term high blood pressure
• Hereditary diseases, such as polycystic kidney disease,
• Any disease that decreases blood flow to organs
• Abnormal structure or blockage of the kidneys/urinary tract,
• Injury or trauma to the kidneys or urinary tract,
• Poisoning or exposure to toxic substances
• Belong to a population group that has a high rate of diabetes or high blood pressure, such as African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian, Pacific Islanders, and American Indian.
• Sometimes the exact cause of kidney failure is not determined. You can ask your doctor about the cause of your kidney failure.
SIGNS OF KIDNEY FAILURE
When the kidneys fail there is a buildup of waste products and excess fluid. This buildup of waste products is called uremia. Some symptoms of uremia are that you may notice that you:
• feel more tired and have less energy
• have trouble concentrating
• have a poor appetite
• have trouble sleeping
• have muscle cramping at night
• have swollen feet and ankles
• have puffiness around your eyes, especially in the morning
• have dry, itchy skin
• Need to urinate more often, especially at night.
Anyone can get chronic kidney disease at any age. However, some people are more likely than others to develop kidney disease. You may have an increased risk for kidney disease if you:
• have diabetes
• have high blood pressure
• have a family history of chronic kidney disease
• are older
• Belong to a population group that has a high rate of diabetes or high blood pressure, such as African, Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian, Pacific Islanders, and American Indians.