Whether you’re newly diagnosed or a long term kidney patient we have lots of information on the many aspects of kidney health – including dialysis, kidney function, and transplants.

Source: UK Kidney Association, https://ukkidney.org/-The UKKA is the leading professional body for the UK renal community. 

Below are FAQs relating to nephrology.

Q. What are the leading causes of renal failure?

A. The leading causes of renal failure are uncontrolled high blood pressure and uncontrolled diabetes.

Q. Is the only purpose of the kidneys is to filter blood?

A. No.

The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs, located just below the ribcage on either side of the spine. They help filter your blood by removing waste and excess fluids, but they do much more. The kidneys help maintain the balance of electrolytes in the body. In addition, hormones produced by the kidney help regulate your blood pressure, make red blood cells, and help keep you strong.

Q. Is urine made in the kidneys?

A. The kidneys filter up to 150 quarts of blood and produce one to two quarts of urine, which is composed of body wastes and extra water. The urine passes from the kidneys through tubes called ureters, into the bladder where it is stored until it is filled. When the bladder reaches capacity, signals are sent to the brain that it is time to urinate, and the urine is released out of the body through a tube called the urethra.

Q. What is the medical term that refers to the function of the kidney?

A. Renal is the medical term that refers to kidney function.

Renal function refers to the state of the kidneys, and how well they filter blood. Two healthy kidneys provide 100 per cent of your renal function.

Q. What are common non-specific symptoms of chronic kidney disease?

A. Kidney disease can have many different signs and symptoms that are non-specific, meaning, these same symptoms could also be signs of dysfunction in another body organ.

Some non-specific symptoms of renal disease include:

ν Fatigue

ν Difficulty concentrating

ν Trouble sleeping

ν Dry, itchy skin

ν Frequent urge to urinate

ν Blood in the urine

ν Urine is foamy

ν Puffiness around the eyes

ν Loss of appetite

ν Swelling in the ankles and feet

ν Muscle cramps

Q. Can someone have chronic kidney disease without symptoms?

A. Yes.

It is possible to have kidney disease and have no symptoms for a long time. The damage to the kidneys can occur slowly and gradually, over many years, even decades. The common causes of kidney damage include high blood pressure that is poorly managed, and uncontrolled diabetes.

Q. Which kidney disease is known to be inherited?

A. Polycystic kidney disease.

A type of kidney disease that is genetic, or inherited, is polycystic kidney disease (PKD). Polycystic means “many cyst”, and this disorder is characterised by cysts in both kidneys (bilateral renal cysts). These cysts can grow and cause the kidneys to get larger, while replacing the normal tissue. This can ultimately result in chronic kidney disease and kidney failure over time.

Q. Hemodialysis is the only treatment for kidney failure?

A. No.

Hemodialysis is the process that removes waste products and extra fluids from the blood – a job usually performed by healthy kidneys – and it’s one of the options for treating renal failure.

Peritoneal dialysis is another treatment option that filters the waste and fluids, but it does so by using the lining of your belly (the peritoneum).

Dialysis is usually tried first when renal failure occurs. These options do not cure renal failure, but they can improve the quality of life, and extend the lifespan for someone in renal failure.

The last resort option is a kidney transplant, whereby the patient receives a kidney from a living or recently deceased donor. This can be a cure; however, the organ may be rejected, and the patient will need to be on immunosuppressant medications for the rest of their life.

Q. How many stages of kidney disease are there?

A. There are five stages of chronic kidney disease.

ν Stage 1: Normal kidney function, but there are signs that point to kidney disease.

ν Stage 2: Mildly decreased kidney function, and there are signs that point to kidney disease

ν Stage 3: Moderately reduced kidney function

ν Stage 4: Severely reduced kidney function

ν Stage 5: Very severe reduction in kidney function; end stage renal failure

Q. Should people on dialysis maintain diets high in protein?

A. Yes.

People on dialysis should maintain diets high in protein. High-quality protein produces less waste for removal during dialysis. Good sources for protein include meat, poultry, fish and eggs.

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