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The kidneys clear out waste in the body and are also vital in building bones and red blood cells. Acute renal failure or End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) refers to kidney failure and thousands of people around the world are diagnosed with this disease yearly, but it is reversible in 95 percent of the patients who survive the complications.

Symptoms:
Nocturia (need to urinate at night)
Fatigue lethargy and diminished mental acuity
Neuromuscular problems like muscle twitching/cramps and convulsions.
Gastro-intestinal problems like anorexia, vomiting, ulcers and bleeding.
Malnutrition with muscle wasting in advanced disease.
Skin may become yellow-brown and itching
High blood pressure
Hepatitis and other liver problems

Causes of Kidney Failure:
Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS)- a rare condition found in children under the age of 10, Glomerulonephritis -- an infection of the glomeruli and Polycystic Kidney Disease.

Kidney Dialysis:
Dialysis is a process of cleaning the blood using a man-made device. It is not a cure for ESRD and over the years can cause problems such as bone disease, high blood pressure, nerve damage, anemia (having too few red blood cells), infection of the peritoneum (located next to the kidneys), arterial thickening or arteriosclerosis and dialysis dementia (speech difficulties and seizures).

How is it done?
Haemodialysis - a device called a dialyzer (or artificial kidney) is used to remove excess fluid and      waste products from the bloodstream, through a catheter that may be surgically implanted into the      vein, and replaces it. Treatment is typically three times a week, and takes three to four hours. This      method is not suitable for patients with heart disease or active bleeding.
Peritoneal Dialysis (PD) - using a surgically implanted catheter, the abdominal cavity is filled with      dialysate (dialysis solution). The peritoneum in the abdomen acts as a dialysis membrane and      draws out toxins into the dialysate-filled abdominal cavity. The waste-filled dialysate is then removed.      Not appropriate for patients with abdominal problems.

Kidney Transplant:

Once grafted, a life-long regimen of medicine is needed to sustain kidney transplants.Rejection of the kidney by the patient can occur at any time. However, the life span of transplants has increased over the past decade, with grafts functioning for over 35 years.

Diet Change for Kidney Failure:
Restrict total protein to about 10 percent of the caloric intake.
Avoid red meats, poultry, fish, seafood, dairy (except cream cheese and cottage cheese) and eggs.
Polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats should be medium low.
Sodium restricted to 500-1000 grams daily depending on the blood pressure.
Potassium limited to 1.5 - 3.0 grams daily depending on lab testing results.
Consume greens and fruits except vegetables like broccoli, peas, and beans, parsley which is high      in phosphorus.
Dark breads e.g., whole wheat, pumpernickel contain high phosphorus.
Take calcium supplements an hour after meals.

Drugs to avoid:

Painkillers taken on a regular basis could cause analgesic nephropathy (kidney inflammation).      Doctors can recommend a safer alternative.
Immunosuppressants that block the body's immune system and are used to stop the symptom of      proteinuria or loss of large amounts of protein, could hurt the kidneys of certain patients. Doctor's      consultation is needed.
Aristolochic acid, a Chinese herb recently discovered in slimming pills and teas, is harmful to the      kidneys and generates cancer .

Kidney Stone:

Scientists have found evidence of kidney stones in a 7,000-year-old Egyptian mummy. It is a common but painful disorder of the urinary tract, which an estimated 10 percent of the population will experience once in their lives.

Part of the urinary system, the kidneys remove extra water and wastes from the blood, converting it to urine. They balance the salts and substances in the blood, and produce hormones to build bones and red blood cells. A person with a family history of kidney stones, urinary tract infections, kidney disorders such as cystic kidney disease, and metabolic disorders such as hyperthyroidism are likely to develop stones. Kidney stones strike most typically between the ages of 20 and 40, and occur more frequently in men.

Other causes of kidney stones are hyperuricosuria (a disorder of uric acid metabolism), gout, excess intake of vitamin D, and blockage of the urinary tract. Certain diuretics (water pills) or calcium-based antacids increase the risk of stones while other diuretics decrease the risk of kidney stones. Cystinuria and hyperoxaluria are two rare, inherited metabolic disorders that often cause kidney stones. People with a chronic inflammation of the bowel, an intestinal bypass, or ostomy surgery are more prone as are those who take Indinavir,used to treat HIV infection and AIDS. Also, more than 70 percent of people with a rare hereditary disease called renal (kidney) tubular acidosis develop kidney stones.

A kidney stone is a hard mass of crystal containing combinations of body chemicals, normally calcium. A less common type of stone, called struvite or infection stone is caused by infection in the urinary tract. Much less common are the uric acid stone and the rare cystine stone. Normally, urine contains chemicals that prevent the crystals from forming. Sometimes it does not. Tiny crystals will pass in the urine silently. If you have passed a stone, save it for analysis. Blood and urine tests can determine the causes of formation. Sometimes the body absorbs too much calcium, which is known as hypercalciuria, which can be treated with Allopurinol.

Larger stones may cause sudden and extreme pain in the urinary tract. Nausea and vomiting may occur. Later, pain may spread to the groin. Surgery may be needed to remove a kidney stone that causes constant pain or bleeding, or has grown larger.

Gallstones are another type of stone. Gallstones and kidney stones form in different areas of the body. If you have a gallstone, you are not necessarily more likely to develop kidney stones.

To prevent the formation of kidney stones avoid beets, chocolate, coffee, cola, nuts, and rhubarb, spinach, strawberries, tea and wheat bran. Drink enough water to produce at least 2 quarts of urine in every 24-hour period.

(Reference :  CNN, November 21, 2000)