The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs on either side of the human spine, located just below the ribs and positioned behind the belly. Each kidney is about 4 or 5 inches long, roughly the size of a large fist. The main job of the kidneys is to filter the blood. They remove waste products of metabolism, control the body’s fluid balance, and keep the right levels of electrolytes. All of the blood in the body passes through them several times a day.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

When health problems affect your kidneys, they can cause CKD. This is permanent damage that may get worse over time. If they’re so damaged that they stop working, it’s called kidney failure, or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The treatment is usually either dialysis (whereby a machine does the work your kidneys normally do) or to have a transplant in which the patient gets a new healthy kidney from a donor.


This leading cause of kidney failure damages the organs’ small blood vessels and filters. That makes it difficult for them to clean the blood. The body holds on to more salt and water than it should, and there’s more waste in the body system. Nerve damage caused by the disease can make urine back up and harm the kidneys through pressure or infection.

Anorexia Nervosa

People who have this have an unrealistic body image, and they don’t eat enough to stay at a healthy weight. (They weigh at least 15 per cent less than they should.) That can lead to a lack of water, electrolytes, and salt in the body, which can cause chronic kidney disease and, eventually, kidney failure. This is especially true for people who binge-eat and purge (vomit or use laxatives) to get rid of calories.

High Blood Pressure

If the force of blood flow through your body is too high, it can stretch and scar (weaken) the blood vessels, including the ones in the kidneys. This can keep them from getting rid of waste the way they should, and the extra fluid in the blood vessels can raise blood pressure even more, leading to a dangerous cycle. It’s treated with medication and changes to things like  diet, exercise habits, and stress level.

High Cholesterol

If a person has too much bad cholesterol, it can build up in the vessels that carry blood into and out of the kidneys, and that can affect how well they work. It also makes the person more likely to have high blood pressure and diabetes. A blood test can tell if the cholesterol level is too high.


This is a disease that makes a person’s immune system attack certain parts of the body. When it affectsthe kidneys, it’s called lupus nephritis. It causes inflammation and scarring of the small blood vessels that filter waste out of the kidneys, and sometimes in the kidneys as well. It’s treated with different medications: some affect the immune system, while others help control the blood pressure or get rid of swelling and excess fluid.

Multiple Myeloma

Related News

This kind of cancer involves the white blood cells (plasma) that helpthe body fight infection. The cancer cells build up in the bone marrow, where they crowd out healthy blood cells and make abnormal proteins that can cause kidney problems. More than half the people with multiple myeloma also end up with kidney problems.

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome

This happens when small blood vessels in the kidney and other organs get damaged. That can eventually cause kidney failure. It happens after 5 to 10 days of diarrhoea, usually brought on by an infection, like from Escherichia coli bacteria. Most people recover if it is treated quickly. See your doctor if you have several days of diarrhoea, not urinating often, and you are very tired. You also may get bruises or unusual bleeding.

 ANCA Vasculitis

This is when  your own antibodies, which usually fight germs, attack the small blood vessels in your kidneys and other organs. It may lead to blood and protein in your urine and can cause kidney failure. You may have fever, body aches, joint and muscle pain, and brown, tea-coloured urine.

Urine Blockage

If you can’t urinate, that can mean urine is backed up, and that can damage your kidneys. It can cause pressure and lead to infection in the kidneys and other parts of your body. An enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, kidney stones, bladder cancer, urinary tract blood clots, and colon cancer are some of the things that can cause this. See your doctor if you’re urinating much less or much more often than usual or if you see blood in your urine.

Blood Clots

Many conditions can cause blood clots, but a blood disorder, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, is commonly linked to kidney problems. It causes clots in tiny blood vessels that also can affect the brain and heart. Symptoms include fever, bleeding from the nose or gums, diarrhoea, chest pain, confusion, headache, bruising, and feeling very tired. It can be serious if it is not treated quickly, so see a doctor if you have any of these signs.


This is a group of rare diseases that make the skin and connective tissues hard and tight. It can sometimes also harm other things, like blood vessels and organs. If it affects the kidneys and they don’t work the way they should, they can let protein escape through urine. It also can cause a sudden increase in blood pressure that can lead to rapid kidney failure.

Polycystic Kidney Disease

This condition causes cysts, which are small sores often filled with fluid, to grow inside the kidneys. That makes them much larger than they should be and damages their tissue. It is caused by problem genes a person gets from one of the parents. If it’s not diagnosed and managed soon enough, it can lead to chronic kidney disease and, eventually, to end-stage renal disease.

• Adapted from