Kidney Failure

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Kidney Failure

By Andrea Sands
Professor Noahleen Betts

The kidneys are important organs in your body to help filter waste. Sometimes organs may fail and cause further problems within your body. There are treatments available for kidney failure including dialysis and a kidney transplant. Both treatments do involve life changes and the patient must stay healthy. It is important to learn about your body and learn the signs and symptoms of when something goes wrong.

The kidneys keep your body regulated by maintaining your fluid volume, mineral composition, and acidity. This is done by excreting and reabsorbing water and electrolytes. They keep a balance in sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, sulfate, phosphate, and hydrogen. Your kidneys also regulate blood pressure because they excrete enough sodium chloride to maintain normal balance. The most common cause of high blood pressure is kidney disease. Normally when a higher consumption of salt is taken, the body adjusts by excreting more sodium without raising arterial pressure. If your kidneys are not able to excrete such amounts of salt, you will develop high blood pressure. It is important to check your blood pressure and limit your amount of salt intake as well as following regular appointments with your doctor.

Sometimes people will gradually lose kidney function. Chronic kidney failure causes dangerous levels of fluid and waste to build up within your body. You may have few symptoms when in early stages. Unfortunately, the symptoms may not become noticeable until you have significantly lost kidney function. There are several diseases and conditions that can cause chronic kidney failure such as type I diabetes, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, enlarged prostate, kidney stones, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, vesicourteral reflux (urine backs up into kidneys), polycystic kidney disease, kidney infection, glomerulonephritis, lupus, scleroclerma, vasculites, and renal artery stenosis. There are several symptoms in chronic kidney failure; however they can get easily confused with other sicknesses. These symptoms include decrease in urine or none at all, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue and weakness, sleep problems, decreased mental sharpness, muscle twitches and cramps, swelling of feet and ankles, and persistent itching. These symptoms are not some that would really become noticeable so it is important to discuss any changes you notice in your body with your doctor. Kidney damage does slowly progress, and it is possible you will not notice until irreversible damage has occurred.

Some people who experience kidney failure have a treatment option called dialysis. It is a procedure that takes the place of the kidneys and performs the kidneys functions. It allows the patient to still lead a normal life. According to the Mayo Clinic we have over 200,000 people on dialysis. Dialysis works by adjusting the amount of urine that is excreted daily. Changes in temperature will affect how much water needs to be excreted. For example on hot days you sweat more so you would need less water to be lost. On cold days you sweat less, so you need more water to be excreted. Removing waste from the body is extremely important. Your body will create waste daily just by regular body functions. If the waste is not removed it will build up. When waste builds up it causes patients to have a sick feeling. This is called uremia. Patients begin to require dialysis when this happens. Doctors will measure blood chemical levels. Two of the major chemicals checked are creatinine and blood urea nitrogen. There are two kinds of dialysis treatments. One is called hemodialysis and takes place in a hemodialysis unit. The unit is equipped with machines. The equipment adds the correct material to the machines. It is usually done three times a week. Before you begin you will weigh yourself so fluid can be measured. Then you will go to an assigned...
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