Kidney Health

couple1-senior-eyeglassesPersons of all ages can experience urological problems. Illness, aging and injury can significantly affect the functioning of the organs of the urinary system.

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are small, hard deposits made of acid salts and mineral. A kidney stone may not cause any symptoms until it moves into the ureter. Symptoms include severe side and back pain (below the ribs), pain when urinating, a persistent urge to urinate, nausea and vomiting. Although there is no single thing that can cause a kidney stone to develop, several factors can make one susceptible to kidney stones, including a family history of kidney stones, dehydration and obesity. Men are more likely to develop kidney stones. While passing kidney stones can be painful, they typically do not cause permanent damage. Aside from drinking plenty of water and taking pain medicine, treatment is seldom necessary.

Kidney Infection

A kidney infection, also known as pyelonephritis, is a type of urinary tract infection that, if left untreated, can be life-threatening, and can cause chronic liver failure.

Symptoms of a kidney infection include:

  • Blood or pus in the urine
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Pain in the back, side or groin
  • Fever
  • Frequent urination
  • A strong, persistent urge to urinate
  • Pain or a burning feeling when urinating

Usually, a kidney infection develops because bacteria travels from the bladder or urethra into the kidneys. In some cases, although rare, bacteria from an infection in another area of the body can spread into the bloodstream, and into the kidneys; causing infection.

Initially, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. What kind and how long depends upon your condition and the bacteria found in your urine tests. Generally, your symptoms should clear up within a few days, but you may have to continue taking antibiotics for a week or longer. It is important that you take the entire course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor, to ensure that the infection is completely gone.

Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer originates in the kidneys, the bean-shaped organs located on opposite sides of your spine. Many kidney cancers are detected during procedures for other diseases or conditions, because signs and symptoms typically do not show up in the earlier stages of kidney cancer.

Kidney cancer is typically symptom free in its earlier stages. However, symptoms in the later stages can include several warning signs, such as back pain, blood in the urine, fever, swelling of the legs, lump in the abdomen and rapid, unexplained weight loss.

Kidney cancer is diagnosed through a series of tests such as blood, urine, imaging, an ultrasound and a biopsy. A biopsy is generally avoided when possible, since the first line of defense against kidney cancer is removal surgery. Additional CT scans may be required post diagnosis in order to determine what stage your cancer is in.

Stages of Kidney Cancer

  • Stage I
    During stage one, the tumor remains confided to the kidney.

  • Stage II
    During stage two, the tumor has grown larger than in stage one, but it still has not spread beyond the kidney.

  • Stage III

    During stage three, the cancer has expanded beyond the kidney and invaded the surrounding tissues, glands or lymph nodes.

  • Stage IV
    During stage four, cancer cells have spread far beyond the kidneys and have invaded the lymph nodes and other vital organs, such as the liver, the brain, the lungs, etc.

Your treatment options will be determined on an individual basis, depending on what stage your cancer is in when it is detected. Procedures available to you may also be determined by other factors, such as your overall health.

Treatment Options

  • Cancer removal surgery
  • Removal of affected kidney
  • Treatment to freeze cancer cells
  • Embolization
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Chemotherapy