One of the biggest causes of kidney failure is high blood pressure. This occurs when the arteries leading to the kidneys plus those blood vessels within the kidneys become damaged as a result of high blood pressure.
The kidneys are less effective at filtering waste materials from the blood which leads to a build up of waste and fluid which can be dangerous.
Basically, your kidneys do not function as per normal.
If you do not take steps to control this then it can result in serious problems which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
There are two types of kidney failure:
- Kidney disease
- Kidney injury
You may be surprised to learn that kidney disease does not automatically result in kidney failure. The biggest risk is actually heart disease or stroke but it is still important to regulate your blood pressure as this is a risk factor in all of these cases.
If you have high blood pressure then you have a greater chance of developing kidney disease. And, if you have kidney disease then you have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure.
So, the message here is ensure that your blood pressure is regulated and adopt a healthy lifestyle. This will keep it under control as well as reducing the risk of any damage to your heart and arteries.
Causes of kidney failure
Kidney injury can be caused by an enlarged prostate, exposure to poisons/toxins or kidney stones.
Kidney disease is caused by a variety of factors which include:
- High blood pressure
- Polycystic kidney disease
- Overuse of common forms of medication, e.g. aspirin or Ibuprofen.
Symptoms of kidney failure
This varies from one person to another. Some people exhibit symptoms whereas others will not notice anything at all.
Common symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Frequent or less frequent urination
- Blood in urine
- Difficult or painful urination
- Changes in colour, smell etc of urine
- Excessive thirst
- Swollen ankles, feet, face and hands
- Low blood pressure
- Loss of appetite
You may notice some or most of these symptoms.
Diagnosing kidney failure
If you suffer from high blood pressure then you will undergo tests on your kidneys to check their functioning. This will include a blood test and a urine test.
The main reason for these tests is to see if you have an increased risk of kidney failure due to your high blood pressure.
If there are early signs of kidney damage then your GP will refer you for an ultrasound scan which can assess the extent of the damage.
Treatment for kidney failure
Kidney disease or kidney failure can increase your risk of a stroke or heart disease so your GP will want to lower that risk as much as possible.
A good way of doing that is to reduce your high blood pressure. He or she will recommend treatment to reduce it and will continue to monitor it over a period of time.
Your GP will also prescribe high blood pressure medication such as diuretics or ACE inhibitors which are an ideal choice in this case. They work by protecting your kidneys against disease or failure.
If these do not lower your blood pressure to the recommended levels then you will be prescribed other forms of suitable medication.
Your GP will also ask you to make a few changes to your lifestyle which includes reducing your salt intake, taking exercise, reducing alcohol consumption, stopping smoking and losing weight (if necessary).
You may be put on a special diet to ease the workload on your kidneys. But this is usually recommended in severe cases only.
Note : a word about using low salt products such as ‘Lo-Salt’. Do not use these salt substitutes as they contain high levels of potassium which can build up in your kidneys. This is an issue if your kidneys are not functioning as normal and can lead to serious problems.
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