The kidneys also help in regulating blood pressure. In addition to eliminating excess sodium from the body, which helps in maintaining a normal blood pressure, they are responsible for the production of certain blood pressure hormones called renin (wren-in) and angiotensin (angle-o-tense-in). The kidneys make these two hormones when the blood pressure is low. Moreover, the adrenal (a-dree-null) gland, which sits on top of the kidneys, makes a third hormone called aldosterone (al-dost-tair-own). The job of all three of these hormones is to raise the blood pressure.
|Chronic Kidney Disease Symptoms|
Unfortunately, these hormones - referred to as the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone (RAA) system - can also adversely affect the kidneys. These hormones can elicit inflammatory changes in the kidneys of those with kidney disease, as well as contribute to the worsening of kidney function for people with high blood pressure, diabetes, and the many other conditions that cause kidney disease.
The Kidneys as Regulators of Blood and Bone Health
The kidneys are major players in maintaining both blood and bone health, as well. To keep the blood healthy, they produce a hormone called erythropoietin (erith-ro-po-eaten), which is a kind of "blood stimulator." This hormone fuels the production of blood cells in the body and is important for keeping the blood count normal. To keep the bones healthy, the kidneys transform and "activate" vitamin D obtained from both diet and sun exposure. Vitamin D is responsible for preserving bone, heart, and total body health. Unfortunately, many of us in this country are deficient in this important vitamin. Proper supplementation of this essential vitamin is crucial.
WHAT IS KIDNEY DISEASE?
Kidney disease refers to any condition that, over time, affects the kidneys' ability to do their job as filters. There are many conditions that can affect kidney function, but a discussion of all of them is beyond the scope of this blog. Instead, we will focus on the most common causes, which, in this country, are hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes. Obesity, which has become an epidemic in itself, is also a cause. Some conditions that affect kidney function, like diabetes, are obtained during one's lifetime, whereas others, like polycystic kidney disease, can be inherited from family members. For now, the focus is on three important questions that patients commonly ask about it.
Timing and Duration of Kidney Disease
The first question commonly asked by patients about kidney disease is, how long have I had it? The doctor's response is based on the results of blood tests. Upon reviewing the patient's blood work, the doctor will classify the duration of the patient's kidney disease as either acute or chronic. Acute kidney disease refers to any condition that worsens kidney function quickly, over a period of several hours or days. Chronic kidney disease (CKD), on the other hand, refers to a change in kidney function that occurs over weeks or months, and doesn't return to normal. There are many conditions that affect the kidney acutely at first, before resulting in a long-term or chronic problem. Therefore, the term "kidney disease" will be referring to CKD, unless otherwise specified.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) - A Matter of Epidemic Proportions
Finally, a third question patients often ask is, do other people have problems with their kidneys? The answer is yes - millions of people do. More than twenty-six million people in this country have been diagnosed with CKD, and this staggering number continues to grow.
This statistic may even be an underestimation, as it cannot take into account the thousands, or even millions more people that still remain undiagnosed. And what's more, common causes of kidney disease like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, which were once thought to be conditions of "older people," are now affecting younger generations, including many teenagers. Thus, the upward trend of CKD diagnoses is likely to continue. To find out more, you can check out Chronic Kidney Disease Symptoms.