Have a symptom?
See what questions
a doctor would ask.
Articles » Kidney Diseases: NWHIC

Kidney Diseases: NWHIC

Article title: Kidney Diseases: NWHIC

Conditions: Kidney conditions, kidney failure, diabetic nephropathy, urinary tract, bladder, ureter

Source: NWHIC


Click here for Easy to Read version.

What happens to you if your kidneys no longer work well or at all?
What are the symptoms of kidney failure?
How can you prevent diabetes from progressing into kidney disease?
What is the urinary tract?

See also...

What happens to you if your kidneys no longer work well or at all?

Healthy kidneys clean the blood by filtering out extra water and wastes. They also make hormones that keep your bones strong and blood healthy. When both of your kidneys fail, your body holds fluid. Your blood pressure rises. Harmful wastes build up in your body. Your body doesn't make enough red blood cells. When this happens, you need treatment to replace the work of your failed kidneys. Each year in the United States, more than 50,000 people are diagnosed with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), a serious condition in which the kidneys fail to rid the body of wastes. ESRD is the final stage of a slow deterioration of the kidneys, a process known as nephropathy.

What are the symptoms of kidney failure?

Symptoms related to kidney failure usually occur only in late stages of the disease, when kidney function has diminished to less than 25 percent of normal capacity. For many years before that point, kidney disease of diabetes exists as a silent process.

How can you prevent diabetes from progressing into kidney disease?

Since one of the big risk factors for diabetes-based ESRD is hypertension, drugs used to lower blood pressure (antihypertensive drugs) can slow the progression of kidney disease significantly. One drug, an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, has proven effective in preventing progression to stages IV and V.1 Calcium channel blockers, another class of antihypertensive drugs, also show promise.

Some, but not all, calcium channel blockers may be able to decrease proteinuria (loss of protein into the urine) and damage to kidney tissue. Researchers are investigating whether combinations of calcium channel blockers and ACE inhibitors might be more effective than either treatment used alone. Patients with even mild hypertension or persistent microalbuminuria (presence of albumin, a component of protein, in the urine) should consult a physician about the use of antihypertensive medicines.

A diet containing reduced amounts of protein may benefit people with kidney disease of diabetes. In people with diabetes, excessive consumption of protein may be harmful. Experts recommend that most patients with stage III or stage IV nephropathy consume moderate amounts of protein.

If you have diabetes:

  • Have your doctor measure your glycohemoglobin regularly. The HbA1c test averages your level of blood sugar for the previous 1-3 months.

  • Follow your doctor's advice regarding insulin injections, medicines, diet, exercise, and monitoring your blood sugar.

  • Have your blood pressure checked several times a year. If blood pressure is high, follow your doctor's plan for keeping it near normal levels.

  • Ask your doctor whether you might benefit from receiving an ACE inhibitor.

  • Have your urine checked yearly for microalbumin and protein. If there is protein in your urine, have your blood checked for elevated amounts of waste products such as creatinine.

  • Ask your doctor whether you should reduce the amount of protein in your diet.

What is the urinary tract?

The urinary tract, or system, consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located below the ribs toward the middle of the back. The kidneys remove extra water and wastes from the blood, converting it to urine. They also keep a stable balance of salts and other substances in the blood. The kidneys produce hormones that help form red blood cells.

Narrow tubes called ureters carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder, a triangle-shaped chamber in the lower abdomen. Like a balloon, the bladder's elastic walls stretch and expand to store urine. They flatten together when urine is emptied through the urethra to outside the body.

For More Information...

You can find out more about kidney stones and kidney disease by contacting the following organizations:

Prevention and Treatment of Kidney Stones 800-644-6627

Understanding Kidney Stones...Management for a Lifetime 800-333-3032

American Foundation for Urologic Disease 800-242-2383

National Kidney Foundation 800-622-9010

National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse

Oxalosis and Hyperoxaluria Foundation 800-484-9698 ext: 5100

American Kidney Fund

You can find out more information about hyperparathyroidism by contacting the following organizations:

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

You can find out more information about gout by contacting the following organizations:

National Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Information ClearinghouseBox AMS
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20892
(301) 495-4484

International Society of Nephrology
Department of Nephrology
University of Florida
P.O. Box 100224
Gainesville, Florida 32610-0231
(904) 392-4008

International Society for Peritoneal Dialysisc/o James F. Winchester, M.D.
Georgetown University School of Medicine
3800 Reservoir Road, NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 784-3662

Intersociety Council for Research for the Kidney and Urinary Tract
Northwestern University
Children's Memorial Hospital
2300 Children's Plaza
Mail Stop #37
Chicago, IL 60614

Interstitial Cystitis Association
P.O. Box 1553
Madison Square Station
New York, New York 10159
(800) ICA-1626 or (212) 979-6057
FAX (212) 677-6139

National Association for Continence (Formerly; Help for Incontinent People, Inc.)
P.O. Box 8306
Spartanburg, South Carolina 29305-8306
(803) 579-7900 or (800) BLADDER

National Association of Nephrology Technologists and Technicians
11 West Monument Avenue
Suite 510
Dayton, OH 45402
(513) 223-9765

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
P.O. Box 8923
New Fairfield, Connecticut 06812-8923
(800) 999-6673 or (203) 746-6518

North American Society for Dialysis and Transplantation
6550 Fannin
Suite 1273
Houston, Texas 77030
(713) 790-3275

North American Transplant Coordinators
P.O Box 15384
Lenexa, Kansas 66285-5384
(913) 492-3600

Organ Transplant Fund
1027 South Yates Road
Memphis, Tennessee 38119
(800) 489-3863 or (901) 684-1697

Polycystic Kidney Research Foundation
The Prostatitis Foundation

Psychonephrology Foundation
c/o New York Medical College
Psychiatric Institute
Valhalla, New York 10595
(914) 285-8424

Renal Physicians Association
2011 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006-1808
(202) 835-0436

The Simon Foundation for Continence
P.O. Box 815
Wilmette, Illinois 60091
(800) 23-SIMON

Society of Government Service Urologists
7027 Weathered Post
San Antonio, Texas 78238
(210) 681-0587

Society for Pediatric Urology
100 UCLA Medical Plaza
Los Angeles, California 90095
(310) 825-6865

Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates
East Holly Avenue
Box 56
Pitman, NJ 08071-0056
(609) 256-2335
Fax: (609) 589-7463

The Transplant Foundation
8002 Discovery Drive
Suite 310
Richmond, Virginia 23229
(804) 285-5115
FAX (804) 288-2408

Transplant Society
University Hospital-SUNY at Stony Brook
Department of Surgery - Health Science Center
T-19, Room 040
Stony Brook, New York 11794-8192

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)
1100 Boulders Parkway
Suite 500
P.O. Box 13770
Richmond, Virginia 23225
(800) 24-DONOR or (804) 330-8500

United Ostomy Association
36 Executive Park
Suite 120
Irvine, California 92714
(800) 826-0826 or (714) 660-8624

Urodynamics Society
Department of Urology
200 First Street, SW
Rochester, MN 55905
(507) 284-2248

All material contained in the FAQs is free of copyright restrictions, and may be copied, reproduced, or duplicated without permission of the U.S. Office on Women's Health; citation of the source is appreciated.

Back to FAQ Index


Publication date: March 2001



By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use. Information provided on this site is for informational purposes only; it is not intended as a substitute for advice from your own medical team. The information on this site is not to be used for diagnosing or treating any health concerns you may have - please contact your physician or health care professional for all your medical needs. Please see our Terms of Use.

Home | Symptoms | Diseases | Diagnosis | Videos | Tools | Forum | About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Site Map | Advertise