Kidneys flush out the toxins and wastes from the body and help in the hurdle-free functioning of the entire body (including the other multi-organ systems). However, when the kidneys fail to function properly, as in the case of chronic kidney disease, the repercussions are faced by the entire body and have a direct effect on several systems of the body.
Systems affected by kidney disease
- Cardiovascular system
Kidney failure can adversely affect the cardiovascular system due to the buildup of fluid around the lungs, body tissue, and heart, which exerts a greater pressure on the heart thus leading to blood pressure or a rise in it. The excess amount of urea in the body that accumulates due to loss of kidney function is toxic in nature and causes inflammation of the heart’s pericardium. Additionally, the buildup of salts and fluid due to kidney disease along with production of renin damages the blood vessels, thereby leading to atherosclerosis and hypertension.
Thus, kidney disease has serious side effects on the cardiovascular system, which can even lead to strokes and heart attack.
- Blood and circulatory system
Anemia and iron deficiency are consequences of damaged kidneys because the kidneys affect the production of the erythropoietin hormone, which in turn causes anemia. Further dizziness, shortness of breath, tiredness, and irritability are caused due to anemia, which can lead to organ or heart failure if left untreated.
- Skeletal and musculoskeletal system
Kidney disease leads to high levels of parathyroid hormone, which in turn draws out the calcium content from the bones, thereby making the bones thin, weak, and malformed because of the mineral imbalance. The risk is greater for women who are post-menopausal and the elderly.
Kidney failure also leads to deposits of amyloid protein within the joints and tendons, thus causing amyloidosis. This disorder causes fluid to build up in the joints along with stiffness and pain.
- Integumentary system
The skin (integumentary system) is harmed due to the imbalance of minerals including calcium and phosphorus caused by kidney disease. Also, the presence in kidney disease patients of the parathyroid hormone, which draws calcium from the bones, leads to itching on the skin of the hands, legs, back, and chest. Severe scratching and itching can further cause wounds, sores, and punctures to the skin.
- Digestive system
The high levels of urea in the body can cause gastrointestinal problems, such as poor appetite, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, peptic ulcers, bad taste in mouth, and inability to consume required minerals, all due to kidney disease.
- Circadian system
Renal failure leads to an inability to sleep or to remain asleep, thus affecting the sleep or circadian cycle. Sleep apnea, breathing problems, and restless leg syndrome, which causes pain and restlessness, all affect the quality of sleep, which further leads to lower immunity and exhaustion, thus affecting daily life. This further affects the ability to fight diseases.
- Nervous system
All of the above effects of kidney disease on the body along with hormonal and mineral imbalance can cause depression, thus affecting day-to-day living.