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Kidney disease

Kidney disease may be either a primary condition, such as kidney stones, or a consequence of other disorders, such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, or diabetes all of which can severely damage the organs' blood vessels. Older men are susceptible to kidney infections stemming from enlargement of the prostate. Pregnant women and diabetics are vulnerable to infections of the urinary tract. Side effects from drugs are common and preventable causes of serious kidney disorders. For example, acetaminophen, aspirin, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and calcium with vitamin D supplements are among the nonprescription drugs that can damage kidneys; combining aspirin and acetaminophen is especially damaging. Whenever you see your doctor, be sure to mention any over-the-counter medications or vitamin supplements you have been taking, even if occasionally.

Healthy people should not wait for problems to crop up; rather, they should try to follow a diet that will help prevent kidney disorders. Drink plenty of liquids to flush the urinary system and replace lost fluids, and consume a low-fat diet that emphasizes starchy foods, vegetables, and fruits.

Diet is crucial in treating kidney problems. if you have a serious kidney disease, your doctor will probably refer you to a clinical dietitian for advice concerning changes to your diet. The allowable types and portions of foods differ, depending upon the type and severity of the kidney disorder.



Approximately 1 in 10 North Americans receives treatment for kidney stones each year; men outnumber women about three to one. Some people suffer their first attack after taking up a steady exercise program, such as jogging, and failing to drink enough fluids to replace the amount lost in sweat. At least half of those who suffer one attack will have a recurrence.

Kidney stones form when crystalline minerals normally flushed away in the urine stick together to form clumps, ranging in size from a grain of sand to coarse gravel. The cause may be gout or another metabolic problem, or it may be a structural or metabolic abnormality within the kidney. When kidney stones block any part of the urinary system, especially the ureters or bladder, they cause intense pain. Stones may pass through the system; others must be removed surgically or by sound-wave treatment (lithotripsy).

In order to prevent recurrences, it is important to determine the cause of the kidney stones. Most are formed of calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate. Less commonly, stones may form from uric acid crystals, especially in people with gout. A fourth type, cystine stones, occurs in fairly rare metabolic diseases.

Fluids, fluids and more fluids. Regardless of the type of stone, it's essential to drink enough liquids to maintain fluid balance and flush away the minerals that accumulate to form stones. most people with stones could reduce the risk of recurrence by increasing their fluid intake (plain water is best) so that they excrete about 2 qt ( 2 liters ) of urine a day.

Another beverage to consider is fresh lemonade, sweetened with as little sugar as possible. Lemons are loaded with citric acid, which has been shown to decrease urinary calcium excretion. Although most stones contain calcium, it's not a good idea to cut down on dietary calcium unless your doctor specifically orders it. if the body fails to get enough calcium, it will rob the bones to get the mineral, thus increasing the danger of osteoporosis.

Phosphorus-rich foods contribute to the formation of calcium phosphate stones. The balance of phosphorus and calcium in the diet is very delicate, however, and restricting the intake of one may interfere with the other. A dietitian's or doctor's guidance is necessary when changing your intake of either essential mineral to maintain balanced nutrition.

Cut down on foods high in oxalate. Oxalate-rich foods include rhubarb, beets, nuts, tofu, chocolate, tea, berries, red currants, tangerines, wheat bran and wheat germ, most of the dark green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, baked beans, lentils, and beer. It doesn't pay to take a drastic approach, however; eliminating all these foods depletes the diet of essential vitamins and minerals. A doctor or dietitian will provide a list of foods that can be eaten in moderation with little risk of causing a recurrence. people with gout should keep to a low-purine diet to reduce the risk of uric acid stones.



Inflammation of the kidney known medically as nephritis may result from a bacterial infection or a number of other causes, including side effects of drugs. Infections sometimes arise elsewhere in the body and reach the kidneys through the bloodstream, or enter the body through the urinary tract and travel up through the bladder tot he kidneys. Kidney infections, like stones, require a doctor's intervention and must be treated with antibiotics. No special dietary measures should be necessary; however, people with kidney infections should drink plenty of fluids. A daily glass of cranberry juice helps prevent recurrence of urinary tract infections in susceptible persons.



Kidney failure may be either a temporary response to acute shock or injury or a severe long-term state necessitating drastic treatment. Acute kidney failure may be caused by severe infection, burns, diarrhea or vomiting, poisoning ( including drug effects or interactions ), surgery, or kidney injury. When the problem is resolved, function usually returns to normal. Chronic kidney failure may be caused by untreated hypertension, poorly controlled diabetes, or an inborn condition. Severe chronic, or end-stage, kidney failure requires regular dialysis in which a machine removes waste products from the blood or where possible, kidney transplantation.

Diet is extremely important in the management of kidney failure. General recommendations include restricting phosphorus, potassium, protein, and salt. Fluids must be monitored. With too little, the electrolytes are out of balance; with too much, fluid retention causes edema and electrolyte problems, and contributes to high blood pressure and perhaps congestive heart failure. Protein needs must be adjusted as kidney function, dialysis, or stress levels change.

Studies show that if protein is limited to about 0.5 g per pound ( 1 g per kilogram ) of body weight per day, the patient on dialysis will receive the essential amino acids but reduce the risk of further kidney damage, proteins from fish, egg whites, and legume and grain combinations are preferable to those in meat because they contain less saturated fat.

Kidney failure requires highly specialized medical care. No changes in diet should be made without a doctor's approval. Consult regularly with a specialist dietitian who will monitor the diet and make any necessary adjustments in the amounts of nutrients, including vitamin and mineral supplements.


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