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Swollen kidneys, also known as hydronephrosis, is a condition in which urine accumulates in one or both kidneys. This condition can occur because urine cannot flow into the bladder
Basically, the kidneys work by filtering metabolic wastes and toxins from the blood, then removing them with the rest of the body fluids in the form of urine. Urine will be flowed through the ureter to the bladder which is then accommodated until you urinate.
However, this process can be disrupted if there is a blockage in the ureteral tract. This blockage makes urine unable to come out or even go back up to the kidneys. As a result, the kidneys become full of urine and eventually become swollen.
Swollen Kidney Symptoms
Kidney swelling can usually occur in one kidney or even both kidneys. This swollen kidney condition does not only occur in adults, but also infants. In babies, this condition can even be seen before the baby is born through ultrasound examination.
Swollen kidneys don't always show symptoms. If they do occur, symptoms can develop rapidly over hours, weeks, or months.
Symptoms that may appear in patients with hydronephrosis include:
- Increased urge to urinate and frequent urination
- Urine cannot be completely expelled
- weak urine flow
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in back, pelvis or abdomen
- Pain when urinating
- There is blood in the urine
Causes of Swollen Kidneys
The causes of swollen kidneys can be different for each person and age. The following are some of the causes of swollen kidneys which are divided according to the patient's age:
Kidney swelling that occurs in adults is generally caused by:
- Kidney stone disease, where stones that form in the kidney can also flow with urine and block the ureter
- benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
- Narrowing of the ureter
- Infection or cancer in the urinary system
- Blood clot in kidney or ureter
- Damage of the nerves that control the bladder
Kidney swelling that occurs in unborn babies is still not known for certain. However, it is suspected that at the end of pregnancy, the baby produces more urine which causes the kidneys to become swollen.
In addition, swollen kidneys in babies can also be caused by:
- Blockage or narrowing of the urinary tract.
- Vesicoureteral reflux, which is a condition in which the valve that controls the flow of urine from the ureter to the bladder does not work. This condition can also cause urine to flow back into the kidneys.
How to Overcome Swollen Kidneys
Treatment of swollen kidneys is generally different for each person, depending on age, severity, and the cause of swollen kidneys.
To determine the cause of swollen kidneys, a physical examination by a doctor and support is needed, such as urine analysis, blood tests to assess kidney function, kidney ultrasound, or special X-rays of the urinary tract called cystourethrography.
Adults who suffer from severe swollen kidneys are often recommended to undergo urinary catheterization as initial treatment. This procedure is performed to excrete urine in the kidneys, prevent further kidney damage, and reduce pain caused by swelling of the kidneys.
After the urinary catheterization procedure is performed, the doctor will treat the causes of swollen kidneys based on the cause, such as:
- Installing a small tube (stent) in a patient with ureteral narrowing
- Performing stone removal surgery in patients with kidney stone disease
- Performing prostate removal surgery on patients with prostate swelling
- Providing radiotherapy or chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients in the urinary tract
- Giving antibiotics to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections due to difficult urination
Kidney swelling that occurs due to pregnancy usually does not require special treatment, because this condition will improve in a few weeks after delivery.
Kidney swelling in babies will usually improve as the baby ages. However, swollen kidneys in babies still need a complete examination and regular monitoring from the doctor.
Giving antibiotics and surgical steps can be an option if the baby's swollen kidneys don't improve or are caused by congenital abnormalities in the urinary tract.
Swollen kidneys are a dangerous condition for the he alth of the body. Therefore, take care of your kidneys by living a he althy lifestyle, keeping blood pressure within normal limits, quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol consumption, meeting fluid intake, eating he althy foods, and maintaining an ideal body weight.
If you experience any symptoms related to kidney disease, please consult a doctor immediately.