How does kidney disease affect the body?

To stay healthy, the human body must remove toxins and excess fluids. Most people are born with two kidneys, which are a pair of fist-sized organs that filter toxins and excess fluid from about 50 gallons of blood a day. The body then eliminates the fluid and toxins through about two quarts of urine daily. Kidney disease prevents the kidneys from filtering blood, however, and this can affect the body in many ways.

More than 30 million people in the United States have kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation, and most do not know it. This is because kidney disease does not typically cause noticeable symptoms until it has reached a very advanced stage, known as renal failure or end-stage renal disease, in which the kidneys stop working altogether.

Certain conditions, such as low blood pressure and diabetes, can increase the risk of kidney disease. Low blood pressure, known as hypotension, reduces the amount of blood flowing to the kidneys. Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure in the nation. In patients with diabetes, the excessive sugar levels in the blood damage blood vessels in the kidneys, which prevent the kidneys from working well.

How Kidney Disease Affects the Body

When kidneys stop working, the waste products the kidneys usually excrete build up. Levels of certain byproducts of cell function, such as urea and creatinine, can grow too high. Kidney disease can affect the concentration of certain minerals, such as sodium and potassium, which can affect many systems throughout the body. Low levels of these minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus can cause muscle cramps, for example.

Kidney disease can also prevent the kidneys from concentrating the urine properly, which allows the buildup of excess fluid in the body. Puffiness or swelling of the feet, ankles and lower legs may occur; some people with renal disease have puffy eyes too. Many people with kidney disease feel the need to urinate more often.

Renal disease can cause dry and itchy skin. Among their many other jobs, kidneys help make red blood cells, work to balance the levels of minerals in the body and help keep bones strong. The mineral imbalances and bone diseases that often accompany advanced kidney disease can cause itchiness.

Kidney disease can interfere with sleep. When the kidneys fail to filter blood properly, toxins can build up in the body, and this accumulation of toxins can interfere with sleep. Sleep apnea, a condition characterized by multiple pauses in breathing during sleep, is more common in people with kidney disease. These toxins, along with the anemia associated with kidney disease, can also cause a person to feel more tired, have less energy or have trouble concentrating.

For more information about renal failure and the effects kidney disease has on the body, consult with a vein doctor in Taunton, MA, and Brockton, MA that specializes in kidney disease, nephrology, and dialysis.