Causes of Kidney Failure in Young Adults

Healthy kidneys cleanse the excess fluid, minerals and other bodily waste products collected by the blood by producing urine. They also help balance the volume of electrolytes and regulate the pH range in the body. Furthermore, the kidneys release rennin, a central hormone in the control of blood pressure and various other physiological functions. Illness or injury prevents the blood-filtering units of the kidneys, called nephrons, from functioning properly. When the kidneys lose their functionality, fluids, salts and waste can build up in the bloodstream. This is called kidney failure. Researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School have reported a new genetic finding: A gene, when mutated, causes nephronophthisis--the primary genetic cause of chronic kidney failure especially in children and young adults.

A surgeon holding a model of a cross section of a kidney. (Image: yezry/iStock/Getty Images)

Polycystic Kidney Disease

Polycystic kidney disease, also known as polycystic kidney syndrome and PKD, is a genetic disorder of renal cyst formation. It is characterized by the presence of numerous small cysts in both kidneys. The two major forms of PKD, namely autosomal recessive and autosomal dominant polycystic kidney diseases, are distinguished by their patterns of inheritance. Autosomal dominant PKD is common in both children and adults, but it most often occurs in young adults, according to MedlinePlus. For some people, the symptoms of autosomal dominant PKD may not manifest until middle age.

Goodpasture's Syndrome

Goodpasture's syndrome, or anti-glomerular basement membrane disease, is a rare but serious condition that causes glomerulonephritis, or acute or chronic inflammation of the renal glomeruli--the clusters of microscopic blood vessels in the kidneys. This disease affects mostly young men but also occurs in women, children and older people, according to National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Persons with Goodpasture's syndrome may rapidly progress to the end-stage of renal disease, or total loss of kidney function, especially when the disease is not detected or treated early, according to the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

IgA Nephropathy

IgA nephropathy is the deposition of IgA immune complexes in the glomeruli, or the tufts of blood capillaries, in the nephrons of the kidney. The first signs of this glomerular disease will be blood or protein in the urine, but the beginning of this problem may go unnoticed because it often stays clinically silent for many years. IgA nephropathy occurs in persons of all ages but is common in young adults. However, younger people usually do not show any obvious signs of kidney malfunction because the process takes several years to progress to end-stage when the symptoms become visible. Early treatment of IgA nephropathy is the key to protecting the kidneys. The treatment goal is aimed at both lowering the arterial pressure and reducing proteinuria--the presence of excess protein in the urine.

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