Diseases that affect the kidneys


Many Americans live with kidney disease. It is known as a "silent disease" because most people do not know they have it until later. This can greatly affect your quality of life. If you have any signs of kidney disease, talk with your doctor.

Here are some of the most common diseases that affect the kidneys.

Chronic kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease, or CKD, occurs when your kidneys are damaged over time. It keeps them from working well. When this happens, toxins and other waste may build up in your blood. This causes you to feel very sick.

CKD often results from high blood pressure and/or diabetes. If your blood pressure is too high, your heart and kidneys must work harder. This causes your kidneys to weaken over time. The weaker your kidneys are, the higher your risk for CKD.

Diabetes, or high blood sugar, is also a worry. If you have diabetes, your body can’t manage the amount of sugar in your blood. If not treated it can damage your blood vessels and your kidneys.

Resistant high blood pressure

Many people with CKD have resistant high blood pressure. This means that their blood pressure stays high even though being on medications to lower it.

It is more likely to occur the longer a person has CKD.


Another common kidney problem is glomerulonephritis, which is a group of diseases. This causes swelling of the kidneys. This makes kidneys less able to filter waste from the blood.

Polycystic kidney disease

Polycystic kidney disease, or PKD, is passed down from members of the same family.

Large cysts or fluid filled sacsform in the kidneys. This prevents the kidneys from working properly.

Kidney infections

The urinary tract develops before we are born. It includes the tubes that lead from the kidneys to the bladder and from the bladder out of the body.

Sometimes these tubes don’t grow correctly. If the tubes are too thin, urine may be slower to leave the body. This may cause kidney infections.

Autoimmune kidney diseases

Kidney damage may also occur if your immune system does not work well. Instead of attacking harmful invaders, it attacks healthy tissue. When it attacks healthy kidneys, it causes autoimmune nephritis. This can be seen in diseases like lupus.

Signs of kidney disease

If you have kidney disease, you could have many different signs. Common signs include:

  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Flu-like symptoms that do not go away after a week or two.
  • Fatigue.
  • Frequent urination, especially at night.
  • Itchy, dry skin.
  • Muscle aches and cramps.
  • Poor appetite.
  • Puffiness around your eyes, especially after waking up.
  • Swollen ankles and feet.
  • Trouble sleeping.

Keep in mind that signs usually don’t develop until the disease is more advanced. If you see symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible.