Effective treatment of kidney disease is possible with an early diagnosis, if you're alert to the symptoms, says a urology specialist in the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.
Signs that may indicate kidney trouble include blood in the urine, side pain, high blood pressure, back pain and fluid retention, says Dr. Bernard Fallon, professor in the UI Department of Urology.
If you discover blood in your urine, you should obtain immediate medical attention, Fallon says.
Blood in the urine of a woman between the ages of 20 and 30 may indicate a bladder infection, not kidney disease. But it still should be checked, he says.
Infections, the most common form of kidney or renal disease, are "usually readily treatable," Fallon says. Usually a kidney infection can be treated with antibiotics and will not require hospitalization.
"Kidney stones," deposits of mineral or organic substances, are another common form of kidney disease. The UI physician says many kidney stone patients can be treated at home with medication, as the stone may pass spontaneously. Others will require a surgical procedure, if their stone is larger.
Once a person has had a kidney stone, subsequent problems may be avoided through medication and dietary adjustments, Fallon says. But "kidney stones tend to be recurrent if nothing is done."
Early warning symptoms for kidney tumors, another form of kidney disease, may include a lump or mass in the abdomen or pain in the back below the ribs, he says. There also may be blood visible in the urine. Many kidney tumors are discovered incidentally on x-rays or CT scans done to evaulate abdominal pain or discomfort, he adds.
Humans have two kidneys, but can still function if one kidney is lost to disease. Past family history of kidney disease may influence one's likelihood of experiencing the disease.
You may have heard of terminal renal disease. This does not necessarily mean the patient is terminally ill, but rather that both kidneys have ceased their normal functioning, Fallon emphasizes. Renal dialysis will be necessary in this situation, and a kidney transplant may cure the patient.
As a part of a routine physical examination, your family physician can perform a simple test called a urinalysis. This preliminary check for possible kidney disease does not indicate specific urinary problems, but can show if further investigation is needed, the UI urology specialist says.
Another simple test is the blood creatinine level. If this is abnormal, it is an indication of kidney disease, and further tests should be done to investigate.
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