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What does “kidney disease” mean?

I. Renal anatomy

Every person has two kidneys (very rarely there are people born with one), in each side of the right and left upper abdominal area (Figure 1).


The kidney filters urea from the blood plasma using osmosis through aquaporins (water-filtering nanopores). The pressure exerted is usually only a 40th as great as that of desalination of seawater and the energy consumption is around 100 times lower than with HD dialysis machines.

These “power plants”, i.e. there are up to 1 million of them in a kidney, the so-called “smallest unit of the kidneys” are called nephrons.

The nephron – blood flow and urine flow

Explanation on YouTube:

II. Function of the kidneys

The primary function of the kidneys is to filter the blood from toxins and excrete urine. Other features include:



III. Kidney diseases

Kidney diseases are divided into three categories:

  • Acute kidney disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Genetic kidney diseases
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Acute kidney disease

Acute kidney disease is kidney damage or loss of kidney function. These are reversible if they occur within a short period of time, which is why they are also called “acute”.

These include, for example, toxic poisoning, shocks to the upper abdominal area and other types of accidents. These then cause a state of shock, sometimes for a short time, from which the kidneys can recover.

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Chronic kidney disease

In the case of so-called chronic kidney disease, people do not initially notice the disease when the disease begins.

What is also known as “chronic kidney failure” can be caused by very different causes.

These include, among others:

Since the kidneys slowly stop functioning, the disease only becomes noticeable through the symptoms of nephrotic syndrome.

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Genetic kidney diseases

Genetic kidney diseases are congenital kidney diseases.

Depending on the clinical picture, these become noticeable very early in infancy or late in adulthood.

These include:

In the final stage, chronic kidney insufficiency and genetic kidney diseases lead to irretrievable loss of function of both kidneys and thus to dependence on dialysis if a kidney transplant is not attempted beforehand.

(Image 1) The kidneys, adrenal glands, ureters and the bladder