Causes of chronic kidney disease
You're not alone!
There are a variety of root causes that can lead to kidney failure. For example, long-lasting or repeated kidney infections, diabetes or high blood pressure can severely damage and even destroy the kidneys. Also, congenital things like so-called cystic kidneys or some types of painkillers can gradually cause your kidneys to no longer be able to sufficiently fulfill their responsibilities in your body.
If you are one of these people, you need to know that you are not alone. Besides you, there are many others whose kidneys can no longer perform adequately. Can you guess how many people in Germany have kidney problems for example?
In Germany there are about 80,000 people on dialysis. In addition, more than 20,000 people have a transplanted kidney. In total, there are more than 100,000 people. Worldwide, there are more than 3 million people living with kidney failure.
Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure
As said - there are different reasons why kidneys stop working. The most common reason is diabetes. About one in three people (about 35%) need dialysis because diabetes mellitus has caused long-term damage to the kidneys.
Regardless of why your kidneys are no longer working properly, the treatment required through dialysis is relatively similar. Although dialysis can be a pain, it is very important that you keep to your dialysis schedule and do not miss any dialysis treatments. Dialysis replaces the work of your kidneys and cleans the blood in your body.
Have you ever wondered why the other people at your dialysis center are there? Below, you will find summaries of the most common reasons for dialysis.
Just a quick heads-up: For optimal understanding, it would be best, if you have already read a few basics about the kidney and its functions in the Miku app. This way, you won't need to look up some of the more technical terms.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes (diabetic nephropathy)
Root cause for approximately 35% of all dialysis patients. Diabetic nephropathy refers to changes in the kidneys that develop after many years of diabetes. It affects about one-third of people with diabetes. Persistently high blood sugar slowly, but steadily, damages the small blood vessels in the body. More specifically, this happens when sugar builds up in your glomeruli. The first sign of diabetic nephropathy is the loss of the protein albumin in the urine. Diabetic nephropathy usually occurs 10 to 15 years after the onset of diabetes.
2. Vascular kidney disease (vascular nephropathy)
Root cause for approximately 25% of all dialysis patients. In vascular nephropathy, blood vessels change, causing damage to the kidneys. This can affect both the large and small renal vessels.
3. Inflammation of the kidney filter (glomerulonephritis).
Root cause for about 15% of all dialysis patients. Glomerulonephritis is actually a whole group of inflammations that affect the kidney filterlets (glomeruli). In many of those cases, the body's own immune system will start attacking its own cells. Such an attack is also called autoimmune disease. It is the case, for example, in the most common form of glomerulonephritis, namely IgA nephropathy. Associated inflammations can sometimes also lead quite rapidly to loss of kidney function.
Sometimes, on the other hand, the progression takes years. It is also not uncommon for the kidneys to shrink. Glomerulonephritis can be diagnosed with blood and urine tests. However, it must be confirmed by a tissue sample, a so-called kidney biopsy.
4. Inflammation of kidney tissue (interstitial nephritis)
Root cause for approximately 5-10% of all dialysis patients. These are kidney inflammations located in the tissue between the kidney corpuscles (glomeruli) and the urinary tract (tubules). They can occur suddenly or progress slowly. Likewise, they can come from bacteria or from another origin.
5. Unknown cause (genesis)
Affects approximately 5-10% of all dialysis patients. The underlying cause of the disease, and thus the need for dialysis, may also not yet be clearly diagnosed in some cases.
6. Cystic kidneys
Root cause for approximately 6% of all people with renal failure. Cystic kidney disease is genetic and is considered the most common inherited disease. There are several different types of disease. Most often this is ADPKD (you are spared the words behind this abbreviation).
The disease is caused by cysts growing on the urinary tubules in the kidneys. You can think of it as many little blisters on your kidney. This can severely to completely restrict the kidney. Cyst growth can also occur in other organs. They should always be examined by a specialist. Cystic kidneys can develop very differently depending on the person.
7. Systemic diseases
Root cause for less than 5% of all people on dialysis. Diseases of the renal corpuscle are not infrequently detected in diseases that may affect another organ. They can often involve overactivity or dysfunction of the patient's own immune system, which can lead to an attack on the patient's own body structures. Examples of systemic diseases are Lupus Erythematosus (a connective tissue disease) or Wegner's disease (a disease of the renal blood vessels).
8. Other diseases
Root cause for less than 5% of all dialysis patients. There is a whole range of other diseases that can trigger the need for dialysis. They usually affect a small proportion of affected individuals. Three examples are Alport syndrome, vesicoureteral reflux or multiple myeloma.
The most common causes of dialysis are diabetes (approx. 35%) and various vascular kidney diseases (approx. 25%).
When diabetes is the cause, it is called diabetic nehropathy. This affects about a quarter to a third of diabetic patients.
So-called autoimmune diseases may also be the cause of kidney failure, which means that the body's immune system attacks its own cells, causing problems.
- Kidney.org. Accessed on January 1st 2022