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Kidney Disease Aid and Research Fund

The Kidney Disease Aid and Research Fund is a non-profit organization established to aid in the effort to combat kidney disease. We provide educational information and work with other organizations to aid in the kidney disease research effort. Our main focus is to provide information to those suffering from End-Stage Renal Disease. The information we provide aids in the detection of kidney disease, and helps guide patients through the lifestyle changes required by hemodialysis. The assistance we provide to hospitals and clinics aids in the diagnosis of kidney disease by medical professionals for patients who are at risk or show symptoms of the disease. The work we do with other organizations helps improve the detection, treatment, and prevention of kidney disease. Provides medical supplies, equipment and humanitarian aid to programs that treat Kidney Disease and degenerative diseases. Nutritious food disbursed that strengthens immune systems and helps prevent disease.

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The Purpose of the Kidneys

The kidneys are two organs located on either side of your spine just above the waist. They perform several vital life-sustaining roles. They cleanse your blood by removing waste and excess fluids, maintain the balance of salt and minerals in your blood, and help regulate blood pressure.

Healthy kidneys handle several specific roles:

  • Maintain your body's balance of water and mineral concentration in your blood. These minerals include sodium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
  • Remove waste by-products from the blood after digestion, muscle activity, and exposure to chemicals or medications.
  • Helps regulate blood pressure by producing an enzyme called renin.
  • Stimulates red blood cell production by producing a hormone called erythropoietin.
  • Helps maintain healthy bones by producing an active form of vitamin D.

Terms Related to Kidney Disease

Nephropathy: A general term used to describe any of the various diseases, dysfunctions, or abnormalities of the kidneys.

Acute Renal Failure (ARF): A rapid loss of kidney function due to damage to the kidneys, resulting in retention of waste products that are normally excreted by the kidney. ARF is potentially reversible depending upon the type and cause of the failure. ARF can lead to more serious conditions which are not reversible.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): Gradual decreased function of the kidneys lasting longer than 3 months. CKD is dangerous because it can progress slowly at first, and you may not have any symptoms until serious, often irreparable, damage to the kidneys has been done.

End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD): The final stage of Chronic Kidney Disease occurring when the kidneys permanently fail to work. Permanent renal replacement therapy is required. This therapy can be a form of dialysis, or surgical kidney transplant from a donor with healthy kidneys.

Dialysis: Provides an artificial replacement for lost kidney function (renal replacement therapy) due to renal failure. There are two primary types of dialysis, hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Dialysis in any form is an imperfect treatment to replace kidney function because it does not correct the endocrine functions of the kidney.

Hemodialysis: A form of dialysis where the patient's blood is pumped out of the body and through a machine which acts as a filter removing excess fluid, minerals, and other bodily waste products. The cleansed blood is then returned to the patient's body. Typically hemodialysis is carried out at a properly equipped medical facility 3 times per week, lasting on average 3-5 hours per treatment.

Peritoneal Dialysis: A form of dialysis where a dialysis fluid is entered into the patient’s abdominal cavity. The abdominal cavity is naturally covered by a thin membrane called the peritoneum which contains many small blood vessels. The dialysis fluid will cause water, salts, and the waste products to move from the blood vessels in the peritoneum into the dialysis fluid; effectively turning the peritoneum into a dialysis filter. As the dialysis fluid gets saturated with excess fluid, minerals, and other bodily waste products, the fluid must be exchanged. This exchange is normally performed at home by the patient 4-5 times per day every day.

The advantage to Peritoneal Dialysis is that it is a form of dialysis that can be performed at home by the patient. The disadvantages are that it is a less effective means of ridding the body of waste than Hemodialysis, and it requires an extreme amount of self-discipline on the part of the patient to perform this ritual exchange of dialysis fluid with such frequency.

The Facts About Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

  • 26 million Americans have CKD and millions of others are at increased risk.
  • Early detection can help prevent the progression of kidney disease to kidney failure.
  • Heart disease is the major cause of death for all people with CKD.
  • Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is the best estimate of kidney function.
  • Hypertension causes CKD and CKD causes hypertension.
  • Persistent proteinuria (protein in the urine) means CKD is present.
  • High risk groups include those with diabetes, hypertension and family history of kidney disease.
  • African Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and Seniors are at increased risk.
  • Three simple tests can detect CKD: blood pressure, urine albumin and serum creatinine.

Many people who have chronic kidney disease don't know it, because the early signs can be very subtle. It can take many years to go from chronic kidney disease (CKD) to kidney failure. Some people with CKD live out their lives without ever reaching kidney failure. However, for people at any stage of kidney disease, knowledge is power. Knowing the symptoms of kidney disease can help you get the treatment you need to feel your best. If you or someone you know has one or more of the following symptoms of kidney disease, or you are worried about kidney problems, see a doctor for blood and urine tests. Remember, many of the symptoms can be due to reasons other than kidney disease. The only way to know the cause of your symptoms is to see your doctor.

10 Symptoms of Kidney Disease

Symptom 1: Changes in Urination

Kidneys remove waste from the blood and produce urine. When the kidneys are failing, the urine may change.

  • Waking at night to urinate.
  • Urine may be foamy or bubbly.
  • You may urinate more often, or in greater amounts than usual, with pale urine.
  • You may urinate less often, or in smaller amounts than usual with dark colored urine.
  • Blood in the urine.
  • Difficulty in urination.

Symptom 2: Swelling

Failing kidneys don't remove extra fluid, which builds up in your body causing swelling in the legs, ankles, feet, face, and/or hands.

Symptom 3: Fatigue

Kidney disease can cause a condition called anemia which leads to fatigue. Kidneys make a hormone called erythropoietin that tells your body to make oxygen-carrying red blood cells. When kidneys begin to fail fail, they make less erythropoietin. With fewer red blood cells to carry oxygen, your muscles and brain become tired very quickly. This is a treatable condition.

Symptom 4: Skin Rash/Itching

Kidneys remove wastes from the bloodstream. When the kidneys fail, the buildup of wastes in your blood can cause severe itching.

Symptom 5: Metallic Taste in Mouth/Ammonia Breath

A buildup of wastes in the blood (called uremia) can make food taste different and cause bad breath.

Symptom 6: Nausea and Vomiting

A severe buildup of wastes in the blood (uremia) can also cause nausea and vomiting. You may also notice a change in eating habits; for example, you may stop liking to eat meat, or you may be losing weight because you just don't feel like eating. Loss of appetite can lead to weight loss.

Symptom 7: Shortness of Breath

Trouble catching your breath can be related to the kidneys in two ways. First, extra fluid in the body can build up in the lungs. Second, anemia (a shortage of red blood cells) can leave your body oxygen-starved and short of breath.

Symptom 8: Feeling Cold

Anemia can make you feel cold all the time, even in a warm room.

Symptom 9: Dizziness and Trouble Concentrating

Anemia related to kidney failure means that your brain is not getting enough oxygen. This can lead to memory problems, trouble with concentration, and dizziness.

Symptom 10: Pain in the Legs, Back, or Sides

Some people with kidney problems may have pain in the back or side related to the affected kidney.

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