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How To Tell If You Have Kidney Problems

What Is A Kidney Infection


Your kidneys remove waste and excess fluids from your body, but sometimes they can get infected. Kidney infection, or pyelonephritis, is a type of urinary tract infection .

Itâs estimated that kidney infections account for about 200,000 hospital admissions each year in the United States.

Anyone can get a kidney infection, but some people are more at risk, including:

  • Women, whose urethra is shorter than mens, making it easier for bacteria to enter the bladder
  • Those with lower immune system function due to diabetes, HIV, or medications such as immunosuppressants, which are taken after an organ transplant
  • People with a blockage of the urinary tract such as kidney stones or an enlarged prostate
  • People who use a catheter to drain urine, such as during or after surgery or if confined to a bed
  • Those with structural problems of the urinary tract such as vesicoureteral reflux, which causes urine to flow back up to the kidneys and cause infections.

Itâs important to recognize the symptoms of a kidney infection, as it requires prompt medical attention and can lead to serious problems if not treated.

Tests For Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer might be found because of signs or symptoms a person is having, or it might be found because of lab tests or imaging tests a person is getting for another reason. The actual diagnosis of kidney cancer is made by looking at a sample of kidney cells in the lab or sometimes by how the kidney looks on an imaging test. If you think you have possible signs or symptoms of kidney cancer, see your doctor.

How To Know If You Have Kidney Problems

This article was medically reviewed by Erik Kramer, DO, MPH and by wikiHow staff writer, Jessica Gibson. Dr. Erik Kramer is a Primary Care Physician at the University of Colorado, specializing in internal medicine, diabetes, and weight management. He received his Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from the Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2012. Dr. Kramer is a Diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine and is board certified.There are 17 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 65,399 times.

You might want to think of your kidneys as the filters of your body. In addition to other important functions, your kidneys and nephrons remove waste from your blood and maintain minerals like electrolytes. Imbalances in the filtering process can cause protein, waste, or extra minerals to pass into your urine. When this happens, several kidney problems can arise like kidney stones, kidney infection, or chronic kidney disease.XResearch source Sometimes, in the early stages of kidney disease, a patient can be completely asymptomatic.

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Why Wait Until Your Kidneys Are Diseased

While the study was conducted on people with kidney disease, we could safely extrapolate the recommendations to those who want to avoid kidney disease and achieve optimal kidney function now, especially as we age.

In fact, additional research points to the actuality of physiological changes in the kidneys as we age. The research notes that a progressive reduction of the glomerular filtration rate and renal blood flow are observed in conjunction with aging. The reason for these phenomena is a decrease in the plasma flow in the glomerulus, a bundle of capillaries that partially form the renal corpuscle.2

In addition, the aging kidneys experience other structural changes, such as a loss of renal mass, and decreased responsiveness to stimuli that constrict or dilate blood vessels. The study concludes with a notable summation:

age-related changes in cardiovascular hemodynamics, such as reduced cardiac output and systemic hypertension, are likely to play a role in reducing renal perfusion and filtration. Finally, it is hypothesized that increases in cellular oxidative stress that accompany aging result in endothelial cell dysfunction and changes in vasoactive mediators resulting in increased atherosclerosis, hypertension and glomerulosclerosis.2

How Is Kidney Disease Diagnosed

Kidney Pain In Back Location

If you might have a kidney condition, youll probably visit a pediatric nephrologist , a doctor who specializes in treating kidney diseases. The doctor will ask you about any concerns and symptoms you have, your past health, your familys health, any medicines youre taking, any allergies you have, and other issues. This is called your .

The doctor will want to do urine tests and blood tests to look for signs of structural issues, an infection, glomerulonephritis, or nephrotic syndrome, and to check how well your kidneys are working.

One test commonly used to detect kidney conditions is a renal ultrasound. This picture of the kidneys is made using sound waves. It shows how big the kidney is, its shape, and whether there is anything unusual, such as blockage of the urine flow or swelling. An ultrasound is safe and painless.

Sometimes doctors order a test called a renal scan. A dye is injected into the veins and then pictures are taken that show how blood flows through the kidneys. This tells a doctor whether pee is being made normally. In another test, called a kidney biopsy, the doctor uses a special needle to remove a tiny piece of the kidney to check under a microscope.

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Causes Of Kidney Pain

Kidney pain is a sign that theres something affecting one or both of your kidneys. Your kidney may hurt for these reasons:

Depending on the condition thats causing your kidney pain, you may be able to treat it with home remedies, medications, or surgery.

Conditions such as kidney stones and cysts sometimes resolve on their own.

How Dermatologists Help Patients With Kidney Disease

Kidney doctors, called nephrologists, often care for patients with kidney disease. When a kidney disease affects the skin, a nephrologist may team up with a dermatologist. Some skin conditions that develop due to kidney disease can be difficult to control. For example, if a patient has extremely itchy skin, it may be impossible to sleep through the night. A board-certified dermatologist can help a patient get some relief. This may involve using the right balance of moisturizers and medication that you apply to the skin. Some patients get relief with a treatment called UVB phototherapy.

The right skin care may also help. If the kidney disease is causing extremely dry skin, these tips from dermatologists may help:

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic kidney disease in the United States, 2019. Page last reviewed Mar. 11, 2019. Last accessed Feb. 27, 2020.

ImagesImage 1: Image used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.

Images 4, 5, 7, 8, 11: Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology

ReferencesAmin A, Burgess EF. Skin manifestations associated with kidney cancer. Semin Oncol. 2016 43:408-12.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic kidney disease in the United States, 2019. Page last reviewed Mar. 11, 2019. Last accessed Feb. 27, 2020.

Galperin TA, Cronin AJ, et al. Cutaneous Manifestations of ESRD. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2014 9:201-18.

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Signs And Symptoms Of Kidney Failure

The kidneys remove waste and extra fluid from your body and help maintain proper levels of various minerals. Without correct levels of nutrients, nerves, cells, muscles, and organs may not work properly.

When your kidney function goes below 15% of normal, it’s classified as kidney failure.

Verywell / Ellen Lindner

It might be preceded by kidney disease. The symptoms that occur are typically a result of waste buildup. There are treatments for kidney failure, and your healthcare provider can go over which treatment is best for you.

This article will review the symptoms of kidney failure. Knowing what the symptoms are can help you recognize warning signs early so you can see your healthcare provider about any concerns.

What Do Your Kidneys Do Exactly

How To Know If You Have Kidney Problems

We hear this question quite often at Westchester Health, and what we tell our patients is that although kidneys are rather small , they perform four very important functions. They help:

  • filter waste from your blood
  • control blood pressure
  • create red blood cells

When you have kidney disease, your kidneys are damaged and not filtering your blood the way they should. Two treatments for kidney failure are dialysis, which uses a machine to clean your blood, and a kidney transplant.

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What Will The Doctors Do Then

  • Find out the cause of your CKD and treat it if possible
  • Work with you to make important choices on how to manage your condition
  • Discuss possible lifestyle changes and medication that may relieve symptoms and slow the CKD progression
  • Assess and reduce your risk of heart disease and strokes
  • Try to relieve any symptoms
  • Treat any complications such as anaemia and mineral changes
  • The Matching Process Can Take A While

    You can’t get just any kidney — it has to be compatible with your body. You will be required to undergo several tests to determine your compatibility with a donor’s kidney, according to the Mayo Clinic. The donor’s age, infection exposure, and kidney size can also play a role.

    The first test you’ll need to get is called blood typing. This helps doctors determine whether your blood type is a match for a donor’s kidney. Incompatible blood types aren’t necessarily an issue, but it does require additional medical treatment to ensure your body doesn’t reject the kidney. If you and the donor’s blood types are compatible, you’ll undergo an additional test called tissue typing. This test looks at your genetic markers and compares them to the donor’s. A good match means your body will be less likely to reject the kidney in the future.

    Finally, doctors will do a crossmatch test to determine whether your blood’s antibodies will react adversely to the donor’s blood. If the crossmatch test is negative, it means your blood handled the donor’s just fine, and the risk of your body rejecting the kidney is much lower. If the crossmatch is positive, the risk of rejection is higher. In some cases, doctors would still do the transplant, but again, you’ll need additional medical treatment since the risk of your body rejecting the kidney will be much higher.

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    Treatment For Kidney Failure Transplant Or Dialysis

    Many people with kidney failure can continue with treatment using medicines and will have good-functioning kidneys for the rest of their lives.

    In a few people, kidney disease will progress to the stage where the kidneys stop working and it becomes life threatening. This is called kidney failure or established renal failure .

    This rarely happens suddenly, and there will be time to plan the next stage of your condition. The decision whether to have dialysis, a kidney transplant or supportive treatment should be discussed with your healthcare team.

    Read more about dialysis and kidney transplants.

    How The Kidneys Work


    While we dont talk too much about our kidneys, theyre remarkably intricate, efficient, and versatile.

    Nephrons are the filtering units within the kidneys, and there are about one million of them. Each of the million nephrons contains two filtering components the glomerulus and a tubule.

    Nephrons are constantly performing a twofold process:

    Nephrons glomerulus actively filters the blood.

    The tubule transports the required elements to the blood while removing waste.

    The glomerulus consists of remarkably thin walls, allowing it to pass fluids, tiny molecules, and wastes to the tubule. The tubule transfers the remaining fluids and wastes to the ureters to be excreted in the form of urine.

    The kidneys are part of the bodys urinary tract , along with the bladder, ureters, and urethra. The urinary tracts primary jobs are to:

    • Balance electrolyte and metabolite levels
    • Eliminate blood waste products
    • Regulate blood pressure and volume
    • Regulate blood pH

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    What Tests Do Doctors Use To Diagnose And Monitor Kidney Disease

    To check for kidney disease, health care providers use

    • a blood test that checks how well your kidneys are filtering your blood, called GFR. GFR stands for glomerular filtration rate.
    • a urine test to check for albumin. Albumin is a protein that can pass into the urine when the kidneys are damaged.

    If you have kidney disease, your health care provider will use the same two tests to help monitor your kidney disease and make sure your treatment plan is working.

    How Common Is Renal Parenchymal Disease

    Diseases affecting the kidneys are prevalent across the globe. Chronic kidney disease is estimated to affect over 13%¹ of the worldwide population. This number is staggering and includes millions of individuals in the end stages of renal disease that must endure dialysis or other replacement therapies for the kidneys.

    Only a portion of chronic kidney disease sufferers has the renal parenchymal disease. Many individuals have a renal parenchymal disease that does not resolve, and thus it becomes chronic kidney disease .

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    What Are The Treatment Options For Kidney Disease

    The treatment of kidney disease entails attempting to slow or control the disease’s underlying cause. The cause and treatment options may differ. Most kidney diseases are caused by another underlying condition, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure.

    Kidney diseases are simple to treat when detected early, and the survival rate is high.

    Adequate hydration, alkalinization of urine, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, anticholesterol drugs, and a low protein and sodium diet are necessary to manage kidney disease.

    Dialysis is often required in many cases that are in waiting for a renal transplant.

    Doctors administer treatments based on the severity of the disease, which the most effective treatments for kidney problems include:

    • Antibiotics: The doctor will prescribe antibiotics to fight bacteria based on the results of the blood and urine tests.
    • It is a procedure used to drain the urine that has clogged in the kidneys, and additional treatment is administered to clear the blockage.
    • This procedure involves inserting a catheter through the skin into the kidneys.
  • This is a surgery that is performed on patients who have kidney cancer or other severe kidney problems.
  • During this surgery, the damaged kidney is completely removed.
  • Dialysis

    There are two types of dialysis:

  • The impure blood from the body is pumped into a machine, which extracts all the impurities and returns the pure blood to the body.
  • The procedure is carried out three times per week.
  • What Are The Symptoms Of Kidney Failure

    Kidney Failure Symptoms: 10 Signs Most People Will Miss!

    In early stages of kidney disease, many people experience few or no symptoms. Its important to note that chronic kidney disease can still cause damage even though you feel fine.

    Chronic kidney disease and kidney failure can cause different symptoms for different people. If your kidneys arent working properly, you may notice one or more of the following signs:

    • Poor appetite or metallic taste of food

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    Living With Kidney Disease

    Kidney disease affects different people in different ways, both physically and emotionally. It can impact on many aspects of life, including personal relationships, jobs and social life.

    Get help with the many aspects of living with kidney disease, including mental health, diet, fluid restrictions, questions to ask you doctor, and benefits, on our Living with kidney disease section

    We also have information on the following:

    What Treatment Is Available

    If your kidney function is stable and mild you will normally be referred back to your GP. You should have yearly check-ups to make sure everything is okay but may not need any specific treatment.

    You may receive treatment for some of the symptoms of kidney disease, including anaemia, fluid retention and treatment to keep your bones healthy.

    If you are approaching the later stages of CKD you should start to be given information about the possible treatments available.

    These include kidney transplantation, dialysis and conservative management. There are big decisions to be made, and support and advice will be given to you by all the professionals in the kidney unit to help you decide what you want to do.

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    Choices If You Have Established Renal Failure

    If you have established renal failure , you will need to decide whether to have treatment with dialysis or a kidney transplant. You may decide to have neither treatment and to have supportive care. These choices should be made with your healthcare team.

    For people who want active treatment for their ERF, a transplant would be the best option. However, a transplant is only suitable for about half of all people with ERF. This is because they may have had recent cancer or are not physically fit.

    Many people who have slowly progressive kidney failure and other serious health problems, and who are usually older, may choose to avoid dialysis. Supportive care can still allow you to live for some time with a good quality of life.

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    Why Might I Need A Kidney Function Test

    Chronic Renal Disease: Treatment &  Diet

    Some conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure , affect how well the kidneys work. If you have one of these conditions, your healthcare provider may use kidney function tests to help monitor these conditions.

    You may also need a kidney function test if you have symptoms that indicate possible kidney problems. These symptoms might include:

    • Blood in your urine .
    • Problems with starting to pee.

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    When To See A Healthcare Provider

    If you start to notice signs like changes in your urine output, brain fog, or high blood pressure, see your healthcare provider.

    If you have diabetes or heart disease and start to notice symptoms like the ones mentioned above or other signs that werent there before , also see your healthcare provider.

    Both high blood pressure and high blood sugar can contribute to kidney disease and kidney failure. Seeing your healthcare provider early on, when you first notice symptoms, and starting treatment can make a difference in your prognosis .


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