Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Three Most Common Causes of Kidney Failure

The kidneys are very important organs in the human body. They perform many functions other than just make urine (see my blog post published on October 23, 2014). The kidneys can lose 80-90% of their total function and there could not be any symptom, however, if more than that is lost, dialysis or kidney transplantation are needed in order to survive. So, what causes kidney failure? The list is long, however, the three most important causes are as follows:

The number one reason for people requiring dialysis is diabetes mellitus. 38-45% of all cases of kidney failure are caused by this condition.

The second cause for kidney failure is hypertension (elevated blood pressure). 25-28% of the people who require renal replacement therapy have hypertension as its main mechanism. We have to keep in mind that many diabetics are hypertensives too.

The third cause for kidney failure is glomerular diseases in general. Many of these conditions are autoimmune and have long and complicated names and can only be diagnosed accurately by a kidney biopsy. 10-15% of dialysis cases are from these conditions.

These three causes account for about 85% of all reasons for going into dialysis. There are other situations like genetic conditions,
medication reactions or toxicity from herbal “remedies” that can also cause the kidneys to fail. Since kidney dysfunction rarely produces symptoms until it is too late, it is important to undergo yearly physical examinations that include basic laboratory workup that would detect that the kidney is failing. 

Marco A. Ramos MD