The main function of the kidney is to separate urea, mineral salts, toxins, and other waste products from the blood.
The kidney also plays a major role in regulating levels of various minerals such as calcium, sodium, and potassium in the blood and conservation of water, salts, and electrolytes. If the kidneys’ ability to remove and regulate water and chemicals is seriously damaged by disease, waste products and excess fluid buildup occur, causing severe swelling and symptoms of uremia (kidney failure). There are many different types and causes of kidney disease. These can be characterized as hereditary, congenital or acquired. Kidney diseases are numerous; nephritis is the general term to describe kidney diseases.
The most common type of nephritis is glomerulonephritis. Lupus nephritis is an inflammation of the kidney caused by systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a disease of the immune system.
Diabetic Nephropathy is a kidney condition that occurs only in people with diabetes mellitus. It results in progressive damage of the small filtering units of the kidney (glomeruli). About 20-30% of people with diabetes develop diabetic nephropathy.
Glomerulonephritis is a type of kidney disease caused by inflammation of the internal kidney structures. As a result, large amount of protein is found in the urine.
There are a number of people who are considered to be at high risk for developing chronic acquired kidney disease.
The high risk individuals are those with hypertension, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease and first degree relatives of patients with hypertension, diabetes mellitus or renal disease.
Certain medications, toxins, pesticides and “street” drugs (i.e., heroin) can also produce kidney damage.