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What Are the Different Types of Kidney Disease?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are several different types of kidney disease, and each of them has the potential to cause permanent kidney damage, often leading to the necessity of dialysis or kidney transplant. Some of the most common types of diseases affecting the kidneys include hereditary, systemic, and glomerular. Although research continues, there is currently no cure for kidney disease as of 2011. In some cases, medical treatment may be able to slow the progression of the disease, but dialysis or transplant remain the predominant methods of treatment in severe cases.

Polycystic kidney disease is an example of a genetic or hereditary disease. It is caused by a defective gene and leads the kidneys to develop many fluid-filled sacs called cysts. These cysts may eventually overtake enough of the healthy kidney tissue that the kidneys are no longer able to function on their own. The affected kidneys can grow quite large and cause significant amounts of pain.

Systemic kidney disease occurs when the kidneys can no longer function properly due to other medical conditions such as diabetes or lupus. Keeping these conditions under control can often slow down the progression of the kidney function loss. Unfortunately, lost kidney function cannot usually be regained once it does occur. For this reason, proper health management is extremely important.

When there is damage to the tiny blood vessels within the kidneys, glomerular kidney disease occurs. The first sign of this type of disease is often an abnormal amount of protein in the urine. This may be detected by a routine urine test, especially if no other symptoms are present. Patients with this type of condition frequently report blood in the urine, even with the absence of any kind of infection.

Treatment for severe kidney disease typically involves either dialysis or transplant. Dialysis is a medical procedure in which the blood is removed from the body, filtered through a dialysis machine for cleaning, and sent back into the body. This process often has to be repeated several times per week for the life of the patient unless a kidney transplant is performed. A kidney transplant is a type of surgery in which a healthy kidney is removed from an organ donor or a live donor and placed in the body of the patient. When this occurs, medications must be taken daily in order to reduce the chances of the patient's body rejecting the transplanted organ.

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Discussion Comments
By Ceptorbi — On Feb 14, 2014

@Nefertini, symptoms of kidney problems caused by high blood pressure can include elevated blood pressure, fluid retention, increased frequency of urination, or difficulty in urinating. Laboratory tests for patients with kidney disease can show elevated amounts of protein in the urine, elevated creatine levels, and increased blood urea nitrogen or BUN. Treatment involves controlling blood pressure with medications and lifestyle changes like diet, exercise, and reduced sodium intake. If the kidney damage becomes severe enough, though, dialysis and even a kidney transplant can be needed.

By Nefertini — On Feb 13, 2014

@Ceptorbi - what chronic kidney disease symptoms did your friend experience?

By Ceptorbi — On Feb 13, 2014

People diagnosed with high blood pressure need to know that they can develop chronic kidney disease due to their hypertension. I know someone facing the possibility of dialysis due to her long-term high blood pressure's effect on her kidneys.

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