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The Impact of Kidney Inflammation: Symptoms and Treatment

sharing information on the impact of kidney inflammation

The Impact of Kidney Inflammation: Symptoms and Treatment

Our kidneys play a vital role in our bodies, as it filters waste products and excess fluids from our blood circulation. Kidney inflammation can have serious consequences for our health and bring on various signs. In this article, we will explore how kidney inflammation can affect us, including its symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options.

What Is Kidney Inflammation?

Nephritis is a term used to describe inflammation in the kidneys, and it can lead to various symptoms. These symptoms may vary in terms of severity, ranging from mild to very intense. Common symptoms associated with nephritis are:

► Swelling: Oedema, also known as swelling, is a very common symptom of kidney inflammation. This symptom can appear in many areas, including the face, eyes, legs, ankles, and feet.

► High blood pressure: High blood pressure is a common consequence of kidney inflammation. Sometimes patients will get headache, blurry vision or tiredness with very high blood pressure.

► Changes in Urine: Those suffering from inflamed kidneys may experience changes in their urine, such as a discolouration (dark brown to red colour), reduced urine volume and/or odour. Reddish urine could be due to the presence of blood in the urine.

► Fatigue: Excessive tiredness and a lack of energy can often be caused by an inflamed state in the kidneys. This can is due to toxin build-up in the body, as the kidneys do not filter efficiently. Low blood count can also accompany kidney inflammation, which leads to tiredness.

►  Pain: Pain in the lower back, sides, or abdomen can also be a symptom of inflammation affecting the kidneys. The ache can range from dull to sharp and may be accompanied with a fever or chills.

What Causes Kidney Inflammation in People?

Kidney inflammations are usually due to auto-immune disease. The function of our antibodies are to attack foreign invaders, for example bacteria and viruses. However, in auto-immune conditions, these antibodies turn rogue and start to attack our own kidney cells. This causes intense inflammation on the kidney filtering cells which then lead to damage. If it is diagnosed early, the kidney inflammation can be reversed with proper treatment, and hence avoid permanent damage to the kidneys. If a patient presents late, the kidney inflammation may be already very intense causing irreversible damage to the kidneys.

The reason for why these antibodies attack the kidney cells are usually not known, and likely related to a combination factors from a genetic predisposition and exposure to environmental factors. These conditions can affect the very young to the very old patients.

Diagnosis of Kidney Inflammation

It is important to seek medical attention when any symptoms occur. Your renal physician will start by inquiring about your medical history, conduct a physical examination and order diagnostic tests, which will include blood and urine samples. Imaging studies such as ultrasound scan, CT scan or MRI scan of the kidneys are important as part of the diagnostic work-up.

A kidney biopsy is done to obtain kidney tissue, to accurately diagnose the condition causing the kidney inflammation. The procedure is simple and involves a day admission to the hospital. It is done under local anaesthesia, which is an injection done to the skin and tissue to numb the area. The kidney tissue obtained is around 1cm in length and 1 – 2mm in diameter.

Proper Treatment of Kidney Inflammation

With a proper diagnosis from a kidney biopsy, a treatment plan can be catered for the patient’s condition. Corticosteroids or immunosuppressants are usually prescribed to individuals to suppress the kidney inflammation. The treatment can be for 6 to 12 months, but occasionally it may require a longer treatment duration.

While on the treatment, other medications may be needed to prevent the side effects of the immunosuppressant. These would include medication to prevent bacterial and viral infection, medication to reduce stomach acidity and calcium and vitamin D tablets.

When kidneys are significantly impaired, it is necessary to undergo dialysis to remove toxins and excess fluids from the blood, while waiting for the treatment to cure the kidney inflammation. In more severe cases, if left untreated, kidney inflammation can sometimes lead to long-term kidney disease or end stage renal disease which may require long-term dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Kidney inflammation can dramatically affect a person’s health and well-being. It is essential to see a nephrologist for assessment and treatment of any symptoms that might point to this condition. Taking early and quick action will help to protect the kidneys from long-term damage and leads to improved outcomes.

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