Kidney disease, or renal disease, also known as nephropathy, is damage to or disease of a kidney. Nephritis is an inflammatory kidney disease and has several types according to the location of the inflammation. Inflammation can be diagnosed by blood tests. Nephrosis is non-inflammatory kidney disease. Nephritis and nephrosis can give rise to nephritic syndrome and nephrotic syndrome respectively.
Kidney disease usually causes a loss of kidney function to some degree and can result in kidney failure, the complete loss of kidney function. Kidney failure is known as the end-stage of kidney disease, where dialysis or a kidney transplant is the only treatment option.
Chronic kidney disease causes the gradual loss of kidney function over time. Acute kidney disease is now termed acute kidney injury and is marked by the sudden reduction in kidney function over seven days. About one in eight Americans (as of 2007) suffer from chronic kidney disease.
Causes of kidney disease include deposition of the Immunoglobulin A antibodies in the glomerulus, administration of analgesics, xanthine oxidase deficiency, toxicity of chemotherapy agents, and long-term exposure to lead or its salts. Chronic conditions that can produce nephropathy include systemic lupus erythematosus, diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure (hypertension), which lead to diabetic nephropathy and hypertensive nephropathy, respectively.
One cause of nephropathy is the long term usage of pain medications known as analgesics. The pain medicines which can cause kidney problems include aspirin, acetaminophen, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This form of nephropathy is “chronic analgesic nephritis,” a chronic inflammatory change characterized by loss and atrophy of tubules and interstitial fibrosis and inflammation (BRS Pathology, 2nd edition).