What Causes Kidney Disease

Photo of Kidney Week for Nephrologists in San Diego, another event we attended.
Laguna Woods, California
March 12, 2016 3:17pm CST
After I wrote my last article about kidney disease, I had several people ask about the causes and symptoms of this silent killer. I'm not an expert, but here are some of the things I have learned. First, kidney stones are not the same a CKD - chronic kidney disease - because kidney stones rarely end in dialysis. In CKD, your kidneys gradually stop purifying your blood and toxins build up in your blood and organs, eventually causing them to fail. The Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease Heavy medication use, including transplant meds, can damage the kidneys. Both viral and bacterial infections can damage them. Clogged arteries in the vicinity of the kidneys can damage them. High blood pressure can destroy them. Too much salt can harm them. The kidneys seem to be a very vulnerable part of our body, and most of us are completely unaware of how fragile they are. How to Find Our if You Have Kidney Disease There are several tests that a doctor can run to find out if you have kidney disease. The first one they run is your GFR. It tests the flow rate for your kidneys. The lower the number, the worse your kidneys are functioning. If you have a GFR of under 50, you should be concerned. If it is in the 20's or 30's, you have a serious problem. If it drops into the teens, you are close to dialysis. When my husband was diagnosed, his GFR was 28 and the doctor told him he would probably be on dialysis within a year. This test will be supplemented with other tests to see how much protein, potassium and other chemicals are staying in your blood, rather than being removed by the kidneys. Symptoms of Kidney Disease Other than feeling tired, there were no symptoms of kidney disease that my husband experienced. That is very frightening, because he was almost at dialysis level before he knew he had it. I hope this answers some of your questions. You can learn more by going on the website for the National Kidney Foundation at kidney. org. (Photo was taken at International Kidney Week for Nephrologists in San Diego, another event my husband and I attended.)
16 people like this
17 responses
@Corbin5 (65018)
• United States
12 Mar 16
I believe my kidney disease was caused by measles. Came home from kindergarten and Mom noticed my swollen face. I was the experiment kid for the pill form of cortisone at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
2 people like this
• Laguna Woods, California
14 Mar 16
You could be right. Although I have not heard measles specifically mentioned, we have been told that viruses and bacterial infections are one of the possible causes. I hope that you are getting the best care possible for your kidney disease.
@jaboUK (48867)
• United Kingdom
12 Mar 16
Thanks Deborah, another informative article. It's very frightening to know that it can be so advanced before you even know you've got it.
2 people like this
• Laguna Woods, California
14 Mar 16
Yes, kidney disease is definitely one of those "silent killers," and that really is very scary. Many people would be able to change their diets and slow down the progression of the disease ... if they only knew they had it!
1 person likes this
@Mike197602 (13152)
• Worcester, England
12 Mar 16
my friend had diabetes and he got kidney disease...I think diabetes causes a lot of problems with the kidneys.
2 people like this
• Laguna Woods, California
14 Mar 16
Yes, kidney disease, diabetes and coronary artery disease are very closely related. Having one of them makes you much more likely to have one of the others. It is very scary.
1 person likes this
@snowy22315 (28240)
• United States
12 Mar 16
I had a friend who had kidney disease he didn't know he had it at the time, but his BP had been out of control and he had a couple of strokes...that left him with some visual damage. e theory is his BP caused it. Now he has to undergo dialysis and is trying to get on a transplant list, not a really fun place to be.
2 people like this
• Laguna Woods, California
14 Mar 16
Your friend is absolutely right that his high blood pressure probably caused his kidney disease. They believe that is one of the factors that may have caused my husband to get it, too. Dialysis and transplants are both very difficult ... not a fun place to be at all.
• United States
12 Mar 16
Thank you for doing a second post. I don't know much of this kind of disease but it's good to be alert. I had some liver problems in the past because of a prescription my doctor prescribed but now I don't take it anymore so I'm good. I do go back twice a year for blood tests to ensure everything is alright.
2 people like this
• Laguna Woods, California
14 Mar 16
Doctors can find out so much about our health by doing the proper blood tests. I'm glad you have been getting yours tested regularly.
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (88089)
• Bunbury, Australia
13 Mar 16
This information is really helpful - and it's in nice, simple language. Thanks for posting it.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
14 Mar 16
Thank you. I'm glad you feel that I was able to convey the information clearly. I have learned so much about this deadly disease over the past few years ... a disease I had barely heard of just six years ago.
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (88089)
• Bunbury, Australia
14 Mar 16
@DeborahDiane Sometimes it's amazing the stuff we've never heard of then someone close to us might contract it and suddenly we learn a lot.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
15 Mar 16
@JudyEv - When I gave my Kidney Day speech, I said it was like when you buy a new car and you start noticing all the cars of that model which are on the road ... even though you never noticed all of them before. Once my husband was diagnosed with kidney disease, it seems that we met half a dozen people who also had it.
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Mar 16
This is one of the reasons why I believe certain blood and urine tests should be routine. I had low magnesium for several years. The only visible symptoms were anxiety and depression. Instead of doing a simple urine test, I was sent to counseling. After I developed kidney stones, the urologist did the test. Bingo, low magnesium (which causes the symptoms I was having, kidney stones and osteoporosis, which I also have). I now take magnesium and have no further problems. Duh. Routing testing is important.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
14 Mar 16
You make an excellent point about routine blood testing. In fact, one of the nephologists in the audience at the Kidney Day conference stood up during the question and answer period and told everyone to make sure they get their GFR tested annually. I agree that we should all get a lot more tests besides that one. It could save lives, as well as a lot of misery!
1 person likes this
• United States
14 Mar 16
@DeborahDiane It seems odd to me that they are not done automatically. It would save the health industry lots of money to catch these things early.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
15 Mar 16
@ElizabethWallace - I agree that it seems like it would save a lot of money. One of my friends says that she thinks the insurance companies don't want the doctors to diagnose everything ... it would cost them too much money!
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Mar 16
great info, ms. d-d 'n no doubt gettin' the word out'll hopefully prevent someone else from bein' caught so off guard.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
14 Mar 16
I certainly hope to make people more aware of this deadly disease. I hate to see other people find out that they have kidney disease ... especially when they only find out when it is too late to do much about it.
1 person likes this
• United States
14 Mar 16
@DeborahDiane :D 'tis a shame that the medical community aint so forthcomin'. but, 'tis folks like yerself who spearhead the passage'f knowledge, prevention 'n treatment options that makes this world a better place.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
15 Mar 16
@crazyhorseladycx - Thank you. I hope we do our little bit to help other people have a healthier life.
1 person likes this
@Marcyaz (36191)
• United States
12 Mar 16
Thanks for this information it is very helpful.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
14 Mar 16
I'm glad you found this information helpful. This disease completely turned our lives upside down.
1 person likes this
@Marcyaz (36191)
• United States
14 Mar 16
@DeborahDiane I will know more about this now then I did before, thanks.
1 person likes this
@Tampa_girl7 (20013)
• United States
15 Mar 16
Thanks for helping us to learn about kidney disease.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
15 Mar 16
I hope this is not a problem that you ever have to worry about.
@Lucky15 (31565)
• Philippines
13 Mar 16
will be saving the site. thanks ma'am :)
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
14 Mar 16
I'm so glad to help others avoid this terrible disease.
1 person likes this
@Platespinner (15523)
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
12 Mar 16
Thanks for providing this information!
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
14 Mar 16
I am happy to provide it. I wish I could help other people avoid this disease.
@rina110383 (21937)
12 Mar 16
This is one useful information!
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
14 Mar 16
I'm glad you found this information about kidney disease helpful. It is such a terrible disease.
1 person likes this
@amadeo (39301)
• United States
12 Mar 16
The acid reflux medication is one of them .I did not know this and the Dr.Do not tell you anything.I quit on my own. I think that maybe too late.Stay away from the purple pill.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
14 Mar 16
Yes, I have heard that acid reflux medications can contribute to a number of problems. They may also be one cause of Alzheimers Disease. People have to make difficult decisions, sometimes, about which health issue is the most serious.
@MsTickle (24756)
• Australia
12 Mar 16
That is very frightening as are some of the comments below.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
14 Mar 16
Yes, kidney disease and everything related to it is very frightening. I hope they find ways to prevent it in the future. Right now, eating a careful diet is the best we can do.
@gofsey (1302)
• Madurai, India
4 Apr 16
Among other diseases, kidney disease is probably one of the most dangerous. I am thankful to read about it. You must write more about it. Have a good day.
@rakski (2594)
• Philippines
4 Apr 16
thank you for that information. it will help a lot.