Anatomically, the kidneys and adrenals are closely related. The adrenals are an orange-colored, triangular piece of tissue that is seated directly on top of the kidneys. Despite their proximity, diseases of the kidneys are not related to adrenal diseases, which is why the symptoms of both are very different.
Video of the Day
Hypertension and kidney disease go together like peanut butter and jelly. In fact, this association is so common, that it is a very rare kidney patient without hypertension.
Kidney patients have hypertension because the kidneys are involved in regulating the blood pressure. In her 2009 article appearing in the journal Pediatric Nephrology, Agnes B. Fogo explains that when kidneys get scarred, they secrete a chemical messenger that works to constrict the blood vessels in response to the decreased volume of blood filtered by the kidneys. This constriction of blood vessels raises the blood pressure.
Proteinuria is the medical name for high urine protein. High urine protein is often the first red flag that something is wrong with the kidneys.
The National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases reports that patients with high urine protein often have frothy urine. Just as the proteins in egg whites allow them to be beaten to stiff peaks, the proteins in urine from patients with high urine protein form frothy lather when aerated during urination.
Edema or retention of liquids frequently accompanies high urine protein. This edema often appears as swelling under the eyes, particularly in the morning.
Hematuria is the medical name for blood in the urine. Patients who have proteinuria often also have hematuria. If the blood is not visible to the naked eye, it is called microhematuria. On the other hand, if the patient has cola- or tea-colored urine, it is called gross hematuria.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reports that many of the conditions that cause hematuria are not necessarily serious. For example, exercise can cause hematuria. However, since hematuria may be the result of a tumor or other serious kidney problem, it is important to get it checked out.
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. The adrenals produce too much cortisol in diseases such as Cushing's syndrome. Endocrineweb.com reports that patients with Cushing's syndrome have a host of symptoms, including moon-face, "central-body obesity, glucose intolerance, hypertension, excess hair growth, osteoporosis, kidney stones, menstrual irregularity and emotional lability." Curiously, these symptoms are almost identical to side effects of prednisone. Prednisone is a drug that acts as a synthetic type of cortisol.
Patients with any of these symptoms should consult their doctor because they are also consistent with other types of adrenal disorders involving overproduction of cortisol, such as adrenal tumors.