Nebraska Office of Men's Health

Kidney Disease 

The kidneys are two organs, each about the size of a fist, located in the upper part of a person's abdomen, toward the back. The kidneys filter waste from the blood to form urine. They also regulate amounts of certain vital substances in the body.

There are many different kinds of kidney diseases. A disease of the kidney may be a short-term problem that might not cause permanent kidney damage. More often, diseases that affect the kidney are chronic problems. "Chronic renal failure" is a loss of kidney function that occurs gradually and is often "silent," going undetected for months or years.

Kidney failure most often is caused by diabetes or high blood pressure. Another cause of kidney failure is overuse of medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen that are toxic to the kidneys.

Some preventive measures you can take:

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Get checked regularly for diabetes and high blood pressure, as advised by your doctor.
  • Limit your use of over-the-counter pain relievers.

What Is Kidney Disease?

Kidney disease results from damage to the nephrons, the tiny structures inside your kidneys that filter blood.

Usually the damage occurs very gradually over years. It happens in both kidneys. There aren't any obvious symptoms, so you don't know it's happening.

Common causes of Kidney Disease

  • Diabetes: In diabetes, the body doesn't use glucose (sugar) very well. The glucose stays in your blood and acts like a poison. If you have diabetes, you can prevent kidney disease by controlling your blood sugar levels.
  • High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure can damage the small blood vessels in your kidneys. When this happens your kidneys cannot filter wastes from your blood very well. If you have high blood pressure (hypertension) be sure to take any medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Heredity: Some kidney diseases result from hereditary factors, and can run in families. If your family has a history of any kind of kidney problems, you may be at risk for kidney disease and should talk to your doctor.

Am I At Risk For Kidney Disease?

  • Do you have diabetes (problems with your blood sugar)?
  • Do you have high blood pressure?
  • Did your mother, father, sister, or brother ever have kidney failure? Kidney disease runs in families.

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you are at risk for kidney disease. Now is the time to talk to your doctor or health care professional about getting tested. It could save your life.

For More Information
National Kidney Disease Education Program

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