Monday, December 13, 2010

What Causes Kidney Disease

I wanted to understand a little more about "who" I would be helping and what was wrong with their kidneys that got them on the transplant list. Outside of the personal stories people have shared with me, I wasn't sure what the common causes of kidney disease were.  So I made a date with Google and here are what I would say are the "Top 8" causes of Kidney disease.
  1. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes can cause a condition called diabetic nephropathy.  That’s the same thing with diabetes that attacks people’s vision, circulation, ability to heal etc. and the kidneys are highly vulnerable because of the filtration work they do. It is the leading cause of kidney disease in the North America, responsible for 1/3 of the people on dialysis.
  2. High blood pressure (hypertension), if not controlled, can damage the kidneys over time. The thing with high blood pressure is that so many people aren’t aware they have it so the damage is being done even though they “feel fine”. That's why it's the "silent killer".  If I do end up donating, this is why it will be imperative for me to see a doctor every year to monitor my blood pressure as there will only be one kidney left-it would fail a lot faster than two if high blood pressure went undetected for long.
  3. Glomerulonephritis (Wowsers-that’s a mouthful) is the inflammation and damage of the filtration system of the kidneys, which can cause kidney failure. Complications from infections (like bladder or kidney infections) and lupus are among the causes. Another way of putting this is "Infections Gone Wild".
  4. Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is an example of a hereditary cause of chronic kidney disease wherein both kidneys have multiple cysts.It causes you to have enlarged kidneys as well which can cause trouble for your neighbouring organs like the spleen. This is what often puts children or young adults on the transplant list. For most if not all of these people its not a question as to if they'll need a transplant, but when (although in recent years many via special diets and medical attention have made it well past 30 without going into kidney failure).
  5. Use of analgesics such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) regularly over long durations of time can cause analgesic nephropathy, another cause of kidney disease. Certain other medications can also damage the kidneys. I kind of wonder how many people are going to be hit with this in the next 20-30 years as these drugs have been pretty “regular” things in our lives.
  6. Clogging and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) leading to the kidneys causes a condition called ischemic nephropathy, which is another cause of progressive kidney damage. This is the same thing that often leads to heart attack and stroke.
  7. Obstruction of the flow of urine by stones, an enlarged prostate, strictures (narrowings), or cancers may also cause kidney disease.
  8. The less “common” causes (but still relevant) of chronic kidney disease include HIV infection, sickle cell disease, heroin abuse, amyloidosis, chronic kidney infections, and certain cancers.
I found a cool page that shares a handful of people's stories, as told by them (voice not video) and their experiences with living with kidney disease.  I listened to them all and I have to say you'd be hard pressed not to relate to at least one of them.  They are all just regular people trying to have regular lives with kidney disease hanging over their heads.


  1. Would you be ok if someone received your kidney who was a drug user as opposed to a person with an inherited condition? How do they decide who will get your kidney?

  2. Well I don't get to I have to be ok with whomever gets it. They either will keep me in the local program and match me with someone here or more likely will put me on the National registry. The sickest person I match the best will get it.

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