What Are the Causes of Kidney Disease?

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  • Written By: Jennifer Long
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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Proper kidney function is important to the body. The kidneys are responsible for removing excess water and waste from the bloodstream. When the kidneys cannot function properly, then waste, water and toxins build up in the blood. The most common causes of kidney disease are diabetes, high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. A less common cause is a series of chronic kidney infections.

Kidney disease affects approximately one out of every nine adults. Understanding the stages and causes of kidney disease can help slow the progression. Whenever possible, medical treatment during the early stages of renal failure can slow its progression to chronic kidney disease, which is more difficult to manage. There is no cure for kidney disease, with the exception of transplantation to replace kidneys that have completely stopped working.

Diabetes is one of the common causes of kidney disease. This underlying condition leads to damaged blood vessels of the kidneys. If diabetes is left unmanaged, this damage is accelerated. With the blood vessels damaged, the kidneys cannot provide proper filtering. Additionally, urinary nerves can be damaged, which causes bladder retention and a backup into the kidneys.

Another one of the causes of kidney disease is high blood pressure. Similar to diabetes, damage can occur. Hypertension, as high blood pressure is also known, causes blood to travel too quickly through blood vessels, causing an increase in artery pressure. This added pressure can damage the walls of arteries in the kidneys.


Atherosclerosis is also one of the causes of kidney disease related to problematic arteries. This condition results in a buildup of plaque in the arteries, including the kidney arteries. The plaque makes blood flow difficult, which in turn leads to an improper filtering by the kidneys. It also leads to ischemic nephropathy, which is another cause of kidney disease.

Chronic kidney infections, also known as pyelonephritis, are one of the less common causes of kidney disease. Infections can occur when bacteria from the bladder is retained in the urine. The kidneys are exposed to the bacteria overgrowth. Kidney tissue can become damaged as a result of recurring and severe infections, which ultimately leads to kidney disease because the kidneys cannot function properly if they are damaged.

Although all of these causes of kidney disease vary in frequency among patients, they all have one common aspect that they share: They all lead to kidney damage in one way or another. Although there are different stages of kidney disease used to describe the severity, seeking treatment during the earliest stages can help slow the progress. If a patient has an underlying condition that is known to cause kidney failure or disease, proper treatment for that condition might help prevent the disease from occurring.



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