Pathologies of the Kidneys

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  • 0:02 The Kidneys
  • 0:41 Kidney Conditions
  • 3:48 Kidney Diseases
  • 6:33 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has a master's degree in cancer biology and has taught high school and college biology.

We will look at the most common conditions that affect the kidneys and their causes. The diseases that infect the kidneys will also be covered. The lesson will go over the signs and symptoms associated with each pathology.

The Kidneys

Most people take it for granted that their kidneys are working and don't spend any time thinking about what may be going on with them. The kidneys are responsible for doing so much to keep the body in an optimal functioning state. This high level of responsibility will get your attention when something goes wrong in your kidneys.

Your kidneys have the jobs of filtering the blood of excess substances and maintaining the proper amount of water in your body. Any water or substances that the kidneys remove from the bloodstream are put together to form urine. This process happens most days without a hitch, but here are some things that could go wrong and cause conditions in your kidneys.

Kidney Conditions

Hydronephrosis has a beginning that may look familiar to you. You probably already guessed that it has something to do with water by seeing 'hydro-' at the beginning of the word. This is a condition of water retention in the kidneys. Hydronephrosis occurs due to the ureters that drain urine from the kidneys being blocked, causing urine to back up into the kidneys. Some signs and symptoms that may go along with this condition include pain, frequent need to urinate, vomiting, fever and urinary tract infection. This can lead to kidney failure if it is not treated.

Nephrectasis, or distention of the kidneys, is a symptom that is seen in conjunction with hydronephrosis. In case you aren't sure, 'distention' means 'stretched.' It would make sense that the kidneys would get stretched out if urine is still being produced but not drained from the kidneys.

Another possible condition in the kidneys is nephroptosis, which is when the kidney drops into the pelvis. People will sometimes call this condition a floating kidney since the kidney will move when a person stands or sits. The floating kidney occurs if the kidneys are not attached to the back of the abdominal wall. If you have this condition, you may experience stomach pains, vomiting and bloody urine. An interesting thing to note about this condition is that it is seen more in females than in males. Yet something else that affects females more!

I know you have heard of this next condition before. Ever experienced or heard of a little thing called kidney stones? Of course you have heard of it, and if you have experienced it before, you will never forget it!

I bet you want to know more about kidney stones, too. The condition of having kidney stones is called renal calculi, or nephrolithiasis. The stones are the result of different minerals in the body clumping together. They tend to get lodged in the kidneys or other part of the urinary tract. When this happens, you will know based on the severe pain caused by kidney stones called renal colic. Other things you may notice are bloody urine, vomiting, chills, fever and nausea.

The last condition we are going to discuss is acute renal failure, or ARF. This condition is the sudden loss of function of the kidneys. This can be caused by anything that changes the flow of blood to the kidneys, such as heart failure and high blood pressure, or anything that blocks the flow of urine, like kidney stones. ARF signs and symptoms may include GI tract problems, reduced urine, confusion and headaches.

Wilms tumor, also called nephroblastoma, is a childhood cancer that affects the kidneys. It is believed to start developing before a baby is even born. It usually starts out affecting only one kidney but can get to the point where it affects both kidneys. The most noticeable sign is a large lump in the stomach area. Some symptoms that may show that your child has this cancer are high blood pressure, loss of appetite, fever and bloody urine.

Kidney Diseases

Now, in addition to the conditions that can occur in the kidneys, there are also some diseases that may infect the kidneys, too.

One of the most common diseases of the kidneys is pyelonephritis. The name lets you know that this is inflammation of the renal pelvis. This disease can occur due to kidney stones. It may also be caused by an infection due to pregnancy. Some changes that you may notice to let you know that you are experiencing pyelonephritis are fever, lower back pain, bloody urine, nausea and vomiting. Another indicator is that your urine will usually begin to really smell bad.

Glomerulonephritis is another disease that can affect the kidneys. This is when you have inflammation of the glomeruli of the kidneys. There are two different types of glomerulonephritis. Acute glomerulonephritis is when the inflammation of the glomeruli occurs suddenly due to an infection in the kidneys or in the bloodstream. Chronic glomerulonephritis is when the inflammation develops over time due to a disease that is present in the body.

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