Kidney (Renal) Diseases
What Are The Different Types Of Kidney Diseases?
The classification and categorization of the types of kidney diseases has changed over time. Even today, many authors disagree on what the different types of kidney diseases are. As a general classification, we can say that, according to its cause, there are two main types of kidney disease: Nephitis and Nephopathy.
Nephritis occurs due to inflammation. Swelling of the kidneys causes them to reduce their efficiency in performing their filtering, blood cleaning action.
Nephropathy is defined as a type of kidney disease that is not caused by inflammation. It is important to note that nephropathies may have inflammation as one of its symptoms, but in no case this swelling is the cause of the disease.
Why Do Kidneys Fail?
Kidneys are delicate organs, and as such they need an adequate environment to function properly. Sometimes that environment is less than adequate, so kidneys begin to function abnormally. When this happens, it is said that there is condition of kidney malfunctioning that can lead to a case of complete kidney failure.
An inadequate diet, external factors and genetic conditions can all be potential causes for kidney failure.
How Do Kidneys Fail?
Irreversible kidney failure often happens over time. After years of decreasing their effectiveness, kidneys became damaged enough to be unable of filtering and eliminating toxins from the body. This accumulates those harmful toxins in the bloodstream and eventually causes illness.
Types Of Kidney Failure
Kidney failure can be classified in two categories, according to how it happens. The types of kidney failure are: acute kidney failure and chronic kidney failure.
Acute kidney failure is a complete loss of kidney function that happens suddenly. It can be caused by accidents, certain medications, infectious processes, blockage of the bladder, and intrusive actions like surgery or weapon injuries.
When any of those events happen, kidneys stop receiving enough blood to perform their function normally. Many patients suffering from this type of kidney failure can get proper kidney function back after treatment.
Chronic kidney failure, on the other hand, happens over time. It can be caused by hypertension, type-1 diabetes (this is perhaps the main cause), genetic anomalies (on, for instance, polycystic kidney disease), sustained drug abuse, congenital blockages, etc.
When a chronic kidney disease gets in an advanced stage (kidney failure), usually there aren’t chances of restoring normal kidney functions, what means that the patient will need dialysis for life, or even a kidney transplant.
Stages Of Kidney Failure
Experts have described kidney failure as a 5-stage process.
Stage 1: Hyperfiltration. – The flow of blood through the kidneys increases, and they become larger. This stage of kidney failure can last many years.
Stage 2: Microalbuminuria. – Due to the sustained hyperfiltration, kidneys begin to show evident damage. As a consequence of this damage, a protein called albumin begins to leak into urine. This stage can last many years, especially when the patient has good control on his blood pressure.
Stage 3: Clinical Albuminuria. – Albumin is eliminated at a rate equal or higher than 200 micrograms per minute. The patient’s blood pressure elevates. The kidneys lose their ability to act as waste filters, and urea-nitrogen and creatinine levels increase in the blood. As the previous stages of kidney failure, this one can last many years.
Stage 4: Advanced Clinical Nephropathy. – The kidneys aren’t able to filter more than 75 milliliters of blood per minute. Toxins continue to accumulate, and proteins continue to be eliminated. This stage usually cannot last longer, and soon kidney failure advances into stage 5.
Stage 5: Kidney Failure. – Kidneys filter less than 10 milliliters of blood per minute. Kidneys’ condition is irreversible, and survival must be ensured by performing dialysis or kidney transplantation. This stage is also known as End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
These 5 stages may take several years to get from 1 to 5, and some people remain in lower stages (stage 3 or lower) for life, never developing a complete renal failure. This is particularly true when the patient keeps his blood pressure and his diabetes under control.
As a rule of thumb, if a person doesn’t get to stage 3 after 25 years from being diagnosed in stage 1, the risk of kidney failure decreases remarkably.