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Chronic Kidney Disease

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Cause

The cause of chronic kidney disease isn't always known. But any condition or disease that damages blood vessels or other structures in the kidneys can lead to kidney disease. The most common causes of chronic kidney disease are:

  • Diabetes. High blood sugar levels caused by diabetes damage blood vessels in the kidneys. If the blood sugar level remains high over many years, this damage gradually reduces the function of the kidneys.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension). Uncontrolled high blood pressure damages blood vessels, which can lead to damage in the kidneys. And blood pressure often rises with chronic kidney disease, so high blood pressure may further damage kidney function even when another medical condition initially caused the disease.

Other conditions that can damage the kidneys and cause chronic kidney disease include:

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Glomerulosclerosis

Glomerulosclerosis refers to scarring or hardening of the glomeruli -- blood vessels located in the kidneys. The glomeruli filter the blood as it passes through the kidneys. They remove waste fluids that then leave the body as urine. Damaged glomeruli can't perform their job adequately. As a result, large amounts of protein from the blood leak into the urine rather than remaining in the bloodstream. This leads to a condition called proteinuria. Glomerulosclerosis can affect children and adults...

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  • Kidney diseases and infections, such as polycystic kidney disease, pyelonephritis, glomerulonephritis, or a kidney problem you were born with.
  • Having a narrowed or blocked renal artery. A renal artery carries blood to the kidneys.
  • Long-term use of medicines that can damage the kidneys. Examples include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as celecoxib and ibuprofen, and certain antibiotics.

Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common causes of chronic kidney disease that leads to kidney failure. Diabetes or high blood pressure may also speed up the progression of chronic kidney disease in someone who already has the disease.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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