Common renal disorders: Signs, symptoms & types

Common renal disorders: Signs, symptoms & types

Ahmed Raza

Renal diseases occur when kidneys are damaged and cannot filter the blood properly. The kidneys are bean-shaped, about the size of a fist, and located on either side of the spine. The last two ribs protect the kidneys from injury. The kidneys filter extra water and waste out of the blood and produce urine.

Disorders related to the kidneys and urinary tract are the tenth major causes of illness and death in the US. About 6 million people (2.6% of the population) in the United States are affected by renal disease. These occur when kidneys are damaged and cannot function normally. Conditions like diabetes and hypertension can lead to kidney damage. Kidney disease can cause many other health problems, like nerve damage, weak bones, and malnutrition.

Signs and symptoms:

Those experiencing any renal disease may have completely different symptoms. The following are the most common signs and symptoms:

These symptoms may seem like other health problems. Make sure to consult your healthcare provider for a diagnosis and proper treatment.

Causes of renal disorders:

Renal diseases may include health conditions, such as kidney stones, kidney failure, and kidney cancer. These kidney problems may be the result of the following conditions:

Common renal disorders

Most kidney disorders damage the nephrons making kidneys unable to filter wastes. The following are common renal disorders:

Chronic kidney disease

The most commonly experienced form of kidney disease is chronic kidney disease. It is also known as chronic kidney failure and involves a gradual loss of kidney function. It is generally caused by high blood pressure Kidney function is damaged to a level where the kidneys can no longer perform their function adequately. At this stage, a patient would need to go on dialysis. Dialysis filters extra fluid and wastes out of the blood, but it can’t cure the disease. A kidney transplant may also be needed depending on the condition of the patient.

Diabetes is also one of the major cause of chronic kidney disease. It is a group of diseases that lead to high blood sugar. The increased amount of glucose in the blood damages the renal blood vessels over time, and the kidneys fail to clean the blood properly. The body becomes overloaded with toxins if the kidneys are not working properly.

Kidney stones

Kidney stones are hard deposits inside the kidneys. It is another common kidney problem and occurs when various substances like minerals present in the blood crystalize in the kidneys and form stone-like solid masses. Kidney stones are usually ejected out of the body during urination. Passing kidney stones is extremely painful, but they rarely cause significant problems.

Signs and symptoms indicating kidney stones are:

Polycystic kidney disease

Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic disorder that causes several cysts (small sacs of fluid) to grow inside the kidneys. Initially, the clusters of cysts develop within the kidneys, causing them to enlarge and then eventually stop renal function over time. These cysts are noncancerous round-shaped sacs containing fluid. These cysts vary in size and can grow very large. Having many large-sized cysts can damage the kidneys.

Symptoms of polycystic kidney disease may include:

Urinary tract infections

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection anywhere in the urinary tract. The urinary tract includes kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. Most UTIs affect the lower urinary tract, the urethra, and the bladder. They can be treated easily and seldom create more urinary problems. But, if left untreated, these infections can reach the kidneys and lead to kidney failure.

Normally, urinary tract infections have no symptoms, but in some cases, they can include:


Glomerulonephritis is an inflammation of the glomeruli, an extremely small structure inside the kidneys that filter the blood. Glomerulonephritis can be due to congenital abnormalities, infections, or drugs. Often, it gets better on its own.

Glomerulonephritis occurs on its own or as a result of another disease, such as diabetes or lupus. Prolonged or severe inflammation caused by glomerulonephritis can also damage the kidneys. Treatment depends on the type of disorder and the severity affecting the patient.

Prevention and treatment

There are risk factors for kidney disease, such as race, age, or family history that can’t be controlled. However, patients may take the following preventive measures to decrease the risk of kidney disease:

Treatment of kidney disease usually depends on controlling the root causes of the disease. Your doctor can help you better manage your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Medication, dietary modifications, and lifestyle changes can manage kidney disease.

Works cited:

Last reviewed and updated by on Apr 1, 2022

Caitlin Goodwin, DNP, RN, CNM, is a Board Certified Nurse-Midwife, Registered Nurse, and freelance writer. She has over twelve years of experience in nursing practice.

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