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K: Conditions & Diseases

 

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Kidney Cancer
Kidney Failure
Kidney Infection
Kidney Stones



 

Kidney Cancer
Several types of cancer may develop in the kidneys, but the most common form, which accounts for 85 percent of all cases, is renal cell carcinoma. This form of cancer occurs most often among those between the ages of 50 and 70 and more often in men than women.

The kidneys are important parts of the urinary system that serve as filters to remove waste products from the blood. The kidneys also produce important hormones that aid in the production of red blood cells in bones, regulate blood pressure and help regulate the body’s metabolism of calcium. Symptoms include:

  • An abdominal mass or lump
  • Blood in the urine
  • Fever
  • High blood pressure
  • Pain in the side or lower back that is not associated with an injury
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Swelling of legs or ankles

As with most cancers, the cause of kidney cancer is not known. Risk factors, which are not causes of the disease but are common factors among those with the disease, include smoking, overuse of painkillers, chemical exposure, family history of kidney cancer and extended dialysis.

Treatment options and prognosis vary based on how far advanced the disease has become. With early detection, survival rates are high. If tumors are larger or have spread through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to other parts of the body, the disease is harder to treat and survival rates decline.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Kidney Failure
Other names: Renal failure, acute renal failure (ARF)

Kidney failure occurs when one or both of these organs, which eliminate the excess waste and fluid from your blood, cease to function.

Acute kidney failure is a sudden loss of kidney function after surgery or serious injury that blocks the blood vessels leading to the kidneys. Chronic kidney failure occurs gradually over time and presents few symptoms until the disease has progressed considerably and the kidneys are functioning at less than 25 percent of normal capacity. Chronic kidney failure is usually a result of other conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Symptoms of kidney failure, when present, include:

  • Decreased urine output
  • Swelling of ankles, feet or legs
  • Decreased sensation in feet and hands
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Blood in stool
  • Breath odor
  • Nosebleeds
  • Irritability or confusion
  • Bruising easily
  • Seizures or coma
  • Headaches

Diagnosing kidney failure may require any number of tests, including urinalysis, blood tests and kidney or abdominal ultrasound. Treatment strives to identify and correct any reversible causes, such as the use of medications that may damage the kidneys, as well as methods to prevent harmful accumulation of waste. Dialysis may be used to remove fluid from the kidneys. Antibiotics may be necessary to treat or prevent infection. In severe cases a kidney transplant may be required.

There is no cure for chronic kidney failure. Complications most often are due to surgery, trauma or among those who have other conditions such as heart or lung disease. Old age, infection and other factors also may contribute to complications.

Contact your physician if you are experiencing decreased urination or other symptoms of kidney failure.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Kidney Infection
Other name: Pyelonephritis

A kidney infection occurs when bacteria infects the kidneys or the ureters, which are tubes that transport urine from the kidneys to the bladder. The infection usually stems from a bladder infection, use of a catheter or cystoscope, urinary tract surgery, poor hygiene or conditions that prevent adequate flow of urine to the bladder.

A kidney infection can affect anyone at any age. To help prevent kidney infections, it is helpful to drink about two quarts of liquid each day, avoid wearing nylon underwear, and wipe from front to back. Women also should urinate after sexual intercourse. Symptoms of a kidney infection include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Pain in sides and back
  • Painful urination
  • Cloudy urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination

A kidney infection may be diagnosed through urinalysis as well as urine culture, blood test and possibly an X-ray. Antibiotics are the standard method of treating a kidney infection. It is important to follow your physician’s directions and take the full prescription. If left untreated, a kidney infection can lead to permanent kidney damage, possible blood poisoning and other serious conditions.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Kidney Stones
Other names: Nephrolithiasis, renal lithiasis

Kidney stones are small, rock-like masses that can form in the kidney and interfere with the flow of urine. The buildup of urine that occurs due to kidney stones can eventually damage the kidneys. Some stones may be passed on their own, and others may grow larger.

Kidney stones are more common among men, those 30 years of age or older and those who have a personal or family history of kidney stones. The most common cause of kidney stones is excess calcium in urine, which may result from a number of factors including kidney dysfunction; a diet high in a chemical called oxalate found in poultry, meat and fish; and some types of cancer. Kidney stones may be barely visible or quite large. They may be smooth or jagged. Symptoms include:

  • Severe pain in the abdomen and back
  • Pain in the genital area
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Chills and fever
  • Blood in the urine

Most physicians will diagnose kidney stones by the way the patient describes his or her pain and symptoms. A urinalysis test and possibly an X-ray will be conducted.

Treatment varies based on the size of the stones and the related symptoms. Medication may be prescribed to ease pain, antibiotics if an infection is present. If tests indicate that you are going to pass a stone, you will be given a medical sieve to urinate through so the stone may be collected and tested in a lab. The type of stone you have will help your physician identify what type of deposit is creating the stones and further prescribe a treatment plan to prevent them in the future.

If your kidney stone is too large to pass, your physician may recommend breaking it into small pieces through the use of shock waves so that they may be passed or by surgically removing them.

 

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)