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What is renal disease?

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Quick Answer

Renal disease, also known as chronic kidney disease, involves the gradual loss of kidney function, states MedlinePlus. Renal disease often goes undetected due to an absence of noticeable symptoms. When left undetected or inadequately treated, renal disease may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.

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Renal disease impairs the kidneys’ ability to filter wastes and excess fluids, resulting in a buildup of waste in the body, according to MedlinePlus. The most common causes of renal failure are diabetes and high blood pressure, and other risk factors include heart disease, smoking, obesity and high cholesterol. Renal failure can produce a low blood cell count, high blood pressure, Vitamin D deficiencies and poor bone health.

Symptoms of renal disease include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, sleep problems, changes in urinary output, decreased mental alertness and loss of appetite, explains Mayo Clinic. In general, the signs of early stage renal disease are nonspecific and are often attributed to other illnesses. Consequently, renal disease is often not diagnosed until irreversible damage has occurred to the kidneys. Diagnosis of renal disease usually involves kidney function labs, urine tests, imaging tests or biopsy of a kidney tissue sample.

End-stage renal disease dramatically reduces life expectancy and necessitates dialysis, which is the artificial removal of waste by a medical device, notes Mayo Clinic. Another option is a kidney transplant, along with continued medications to ensure the body does not reject the new organ.

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