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Kidney Diseases Kidneys are paired organs each sharing equally the work of removing wastes and excess water from the blood Remarkably a single kidney can do the job of both if one kidney is lost through injury or disease It sometimes occurs although rarely that a person is born with only one kidney Such people are able to lead normal lives Diseases of the kidney range from mild infection to life-threatening kidney failure The most common form of kidney disease is an inflammation of the kidney called pyelonephritis Most such inflammations are caused by a bacterial infection that starts in the bladder and spreads to the kidney Sometimes an obstruction that interferes with the flow of urine in the urinary tract can cause the disease Symptoms of pyelonephritis include fever chills and back pain Antibiotic drugs are usually given to fight the infection which can scar the kidneys and impair their function if left untreated Treatment of severe kidney disease may include kidney dialysis a procedure in which blood is circulated through a machine that removes wastes and excess fluid from the bloodstream Some patients use dialysis for a short time while their kidneys recover from injury or disease Others must use dialysis for their entire lives or until they undergo a kidney transplant Kidney transplants are the most common of all transplant operations and have excellent success rates Unfortunately there are not enough kidneys available for the people who need them More than 38000 people in the United States alone wait for a kidney transplant each year and fewer than 12000 of them receive this life-sustaining organ The kidneys may be harmed whenever injury or disease affects the rest of the body For example diabetes mellitus a disease caused by a malfunctioning pancreas that produces little or no insulin can result in impaired blood flow through the kidneys The bacteria that cause tuberculosis can travel from the lungs and infect the kidneys
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