Understanding Rare Kidney Diseases: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Understanding Kidney

Kidney diseases affect millions of people around the world and can be mild to severe, if left untreated, leading to life-threatening health issues. Rare kidney diseases are defined as those that are not commonly found in the general population and may require special medical expertise and treatments to treat. Understanding the causes, symptoms and treatment options for rare kidney diseases is important in order to identify, diagnose and address issues in a timely manner.

Causes of Rare Kidney Diseases

Rare kidney diseases can be loosely divided into three broad categories, with most of them caused by an underlying genetic abnormality or disorder. The primary categories of rare causes of kidney disease include:

  • Congenital – This form of kidney disease is present at the time of birth, often outcomes of an inherited gene abnormality.
  • Infectious – This type of kidney disease can be caused when an infectious organism, such as a virus or bacterium, invades the kidneys.
  • Metabolic – Metabolic kidney diseases are caused when a disruption in the metabolic system of the body results in damage to the kidneys.

Symptoms of Rare Kidney Diseases

Common symptoms that may indicate a rare kidney disease include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Confusion & poor concentration
  • Frequent urination
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Pain in the side, back or lower abdomen
  • Swelling in the ankles and feet
  • Difficulty breathing

However, symptoms may vary depending on the type and severity of the disease, so if you experience any of the above symptoms, or other unusual health changes, it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible.

Treatments for Rare Kidney Diseases

The primary treatment for rare kidney diseases is targeting the underlying cause. This may involve drugs or lifestyle changes to control symptoms, or transplants and dialysis to help control the illness. Depending on the form of kidney disease, your doctor may also recommend additional treatments, including:

  • Decreasing Blood Pressure – For rare kidney diseases related to hypertension, medications may be used to lower the blood pressure.
  • Minimizing Protein Intake – If the kidney disease is due to a protein overload, it may be necessary to limit dietary protein intake.
  • Dialysis – For those who develop life-threatening renal failure, dialysis may be necessary.
  • Transplant – In some cases, a transplant may be necessary to replace the failing kidney.

Preventing Rare Kidney Diseases

Beyond regular check-ups and tests, there are certain lifestyle modifications to help reduce the risk of rare kidney diseases. These include:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Limiting the intake of alcohol
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting enough rest
  • Avoiding smoking and/or recreational drug use

Rare kidney diseases are often difficult to diagnose and treat. It is important to stay informed about the causes, symptoms and treatments available so you can recognize and address any unusual health changes that may occur. If you think you may have a rare kidney disease, talk to your doctor to ensure a timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

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