Chronic Kidney Disease
“Kidney disease” isn’t a single disease, but rather a group of diseases and disorders that affect the kidneys in various ways.
While these conditions have different root causes, symptoms, and treatments, they all interfere with the kidneys’ ability to perform their basic functions, including removing waste from your blood, keeping a balance of minerals and water in your blood, and helping your body manage your blood pressure.
Common Kidney Diseases
The following are some of the most common kidney diseases the providers at Associates in Nephrology diagnose, treat, and help our patients manage.
Chronic Renal Disease
Chronic renal (kidney) disease – also called chronic renal failure – causes you to gradually lose your kidney function over time. Treatment for chronic renal disease is focused on slowing the progression of kidney damage, usually by targeting the underlying cause. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common contributors to chronic renal disease.
When the chronic renal disease reaches an advanced stage, it’s called end-stage renal disease, and it means that dangerous levels of waste, fluid, and electrolytes have built up in your body, making kidney treatment essential to your survival. Treating end-stage renal disease typically means either dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Acute Renal Disease
Acute renal disease – also called acute renal failure – occurs when your kidneys suddenly stop working. It can be caused by direct physical damage to the kidneys, having urine backed up in the kidneys, or not having adequate blood flow to the kidneys. Treatment for acute renal disease is the same as for chronic renal disease: you must either undergo dialysis or have a kidney transplant.
Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)
Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic disorder that causes benign cysts to form in the kidneys. This causes the kidneys to grow larger and become damaged. When the number or size of the cysts disrupts kidney function, it can lead to kidney failure. Many people with PKD will experience kidney failure by the time they’re 60 years old. Signs and symptoms of PKD include abdominal swelling, pain in the area of the kidneys, and high blood pressure. Treatments include managing symptoms (e.g., with medications and/or lifestyle changes), cyst drainage or removal, as well as dialysis or a kidney transplant after kidney failure has occurred.
Glomerulonephritis (GN) describes inflammation of the glomerulus, the filter contained within the millions of nephrons inside each kidney. Because the glomeruli are responsible for the filtering activity of the kidneys, damage to it – such as from inflammation – can lead to the loss of kidney function and kidney failure.
As the name suggests, kidney cancer is cancer that forms in your kidneys. For adults, renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer, although other, less common types of kidney cancer can also occur.
Treatment for kidney cancer usually begins with surgery to try to remove the cancer. If the cancer is confined to the kidney, that could be the only treatment you need. There are two forms of surgery for kidney cancer:+
- Nephrectomy – involves removing the entire affected kidney. If just one kidney is removed, the other kidney can filter enough blood to allow you to survive with a single kidney. If both kidneys are removed, dialysis or a kidney transplant will be necessary.
- Partial nephrectomy – is also called kidney-sparing or nephron-sparing surgery. This is where the surgeon removes cancer and a small amount of healthy tissue surrounding it rather than removing the entire kidney.
There are other treatment options as well. Nonsurgical kidney cancer treatment options include destroying malignant tissue with cryoablation (freezing) or radiofrequency ablation (heating). For advanced or recurrent kidney cancer, you may also require additional therapies, such as immunotherapy, radiation therapy, and other targeted approaches.
Nephrotic syndrome – also called nephrosis – is a kidney disorder that causes your body to pass too much protein in your urine. Nephrosis usually occurs due to damage to your glomeruli, the filters inside your kidneys. As kidney function worsens, extra fluids and salt build up in your body, leading to swelling, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels.
Treatment for nephrotic syndrome typically involves treating the underlying condition and taking medications. Since the disorder can increase your chances of developing infections or blood clots, doctors may recommend specific medications and dietary changes designed to prevent complications.
Some possible treatments your doctor may recommend for nephrotic syndrome include:
- Corticosteroids (e.g., prednisone)
- Diuretics (water pills)
- Blood pressure medications
- Anticoagulants (blood thinners)
- A low-salt diet
Chronic Kidney Disease Treatment & Management in SE Mass
No matter the type of kidney disease you have, it is important to consult a specialist who has the experience and knowledge you need to effectively treat your condition. Ready to get the best care for your kidney disease? Contact the kidney disease specialists at Associates in Nephrology in southeast Massachusetts. Getting started is as easy as calling (508) 587-0700 or requesting your appointment now.