Pyelonephritis (infection of kidney pelvis): Bacteria may infect the kidney, usually causing back pain and fever. A spread of bacteria from an untreated bladder infection is the most common cause of pyelonephritis. Glomerulonephritis: An overactive immune system may attack the kidney, causing inflammation and some damage. Blood in the urine and kidney failure are common symptoms of glomerulonephritis. Kidney stones (nephrolithiasis): Minerals in urine form crystals (stones), which may grow large enough to block urine flow. It's considered one of the most painful conditions. Most kidney stones pass on their own but some are too large and need to be treated.
Nephrotic syndrome: Damage to the kidneys causes them to spill large amounts of protein into the urine. Leg swelling (edema) may be a symptom.
Polycystic kidney disease: A genetic condition resulting in large cysts in both kidneys that impair their function.
Acute renal failure (kidney failure): A sudden worsening in kidney function. Dehydration, a blockage in the urinary tract, or kidney damage can cause acute renal failure, which is usually reversible. Chronic renal failure: A permanent partial loss of kidney function. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common causes.
End stage renal disease (ESRD): Complete loss of kidney function, usually due to progressive chronic kidney disease. People with ESRD require regular dialysis for survival.
Papillary necrosis: Severe damage to the kidneys can cause chunks of kidney tissue to break off internally and clog the kidneys. If untreated, the resulting damage can lead to total kidney failure. Diabetic nephropathy: High blood sugar from diabetes progressively damages the kidneys, eventually causing chronic kidney disease. Protein in the urine (nephrotic syndrome) may also result. Hypertensive nephropathy: Kidney damage caused by high blood pressure. Chronic renal failure may eventually result.
Kidney cancer: Renal cell carcinoma is the most common cancer affecting the kidney. Smoking is the most common cause of kidney cancer.
Interstitial nephritis: Inflammation of the connective tissue inside the kidney, often causing acute renal failure. Allergic reactions and drug side effects are the usual causes.
Minimal change disease: A form of nephrotic syndrome in which kidney cells look almost normal under the microscope. Steroids are used to treat minimal change disease, which can cause significant leg swelling (edema).
Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus: The kidneys lose the ability to concentrate the urine, usually due to a drug reaction. Although it's rarely dangerous, diabetes insipidus causes constant thirst and frequent urination. Renal cyst: A benign hollowed-out space in the kidney. Isolated kidney cysts occur in many normal people and almost never impair kidney function.
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