Kidney diseases in women: the most common, symptoms

Kidney disease can evolve silently. Some are more observed in women, especially when she is pregnant. Warning signs, analysis and treatment with the advice of Dr. Brigitte Lantz.

Kidney disease often progresses silently. Even detected, they are sometimes neglected. Yet the kidneys are vital organs (elimination of waste via urine, production of the hormone EPO who prevents anemiarenin which maintains blood pressure, transformation of vitamin D into an active form which prevents osteoporosis…). In women, two kidney conditions are characteristic : I’urinary tract infection mainly and more rarely the toxaemia of pregnancyduring the pregnancy. What symptoms should alert? What to do ? The menopause is it a risky period? Answers with Dr. Brigitte Lantz, nephrologist at Necker Hospital and General Secretary of the Kidney Foundation.

Why do women have more urinary tract infections than men?

Women are more prone to urinary tract infections than men “because the woman’s urethra is much shorter than in humans bacteria rise more easily in the bladder” explains Dr. Brigitte Lantz. More so when they have sex. “The first infections are often seen in young girls who have just been deflowered” points out the doctor who recommends “ofgo pee after having sex and also drink a large glass of water”. The dreaded complication of urinary tract infection is pyelonephritis. The bacteria then move up into the kidney. It’s a medical emergency. Its first sign of appeal: the fever which is added to the symptoms of urinary tract infection (burning on urination, frequent urge to urinate, heaviness in the lower abdomen, etc.). Repeated pyelonephritis can cause chronic inflammation of the interstitial tissue of the kidney which can evolve after several years towards a renal failure.

Why is pregnancy a risky period for the kidneys?

Pregnancy can be a critical time for the kidneys, as the fetus compresses the ureters, which can dilate the kidney cavities.

► The pregnant woman who suffers from chronic kidney disease, such as polycystic kidney disease, or glomerulonephritis due to an autoimmune disease such as systemic lupus can see a amplification of her disease during pregnancy.

In women without pre-existing kidney diseasethey can develop a particular transient kidney disease linked to pregnancy: toxaemia of pregnancy or “pre-eclampsia“. It is an anomaly of the blood vessels of the placenta. The pregnant woman will, during the last months, have proteins (albumin) in the urine and develop arterial hypertension with figures greater than 15/10. She is gaining weight more than it should and has oedemas. Toxemia of pregnancy threatens the life of the baby and mom. She is more common in first pregnancy and when expecting twins explains Dr. Brigitte Lantz. The rate ofUric acid, a possible indicator of toxaemia of pregnancy when it is high, is thus closely monitored in women who suffer from arterial hypertension during pregnancy. It is also imperative to do regular urine dipsticks to check for proteinuria. On the food side, following a strict salt-free diet is not recommended when you are pregnant “because it can aggravate eclampsia. It is advisable not to overdo it but also not to completely eliminate salt”.

Systemic lupus more common in women

Systemic lupus affects 80% of women. But this autoimmune disease damages the kidneys in 20-40% of patientsaccording France Kidney. We are talking about “lupus nephropathy”. Renal involvement may be present from the onset of the disease in a silent way, or appear secondarily during follow-up. It can be manifested by edema (swelling of the feet), headaches (related to the appearance or aggravation of arterial hypertension), great fatigue or be discovered after a venous thrombosis. Patients suffering from lupus are thus regularly monitored (urinary dipstick, ECBU, blood test (increase in blood creatinine) to detect possible kidney damage as soon as possible and put in place appropriate treatment.

Menopause has no impact on the kidneys.

What signs should alert in case of kidney problem?

The main signs of a kidney problem are:

  • A high blood pressure
  • Of the red urine (sign of presence of blood)
  • Of the foamy urine in case of high proteinuria, mainly manifested by oedemas.

If you observe these symptoms, consult your doctor so that he can prescribe the tests necessary to assess your kidney function (urinary dipstick (albumin and blood test), blood creatinine level (marker of kidney failure)).

Is menopause a risky period for the kidneys?

“No way, replies Dr. Lantz. Menopause has no impact on the kidneys”. On the other hand, it is a period when women can to gain weight under the effect of the decrease in hormones. “They develop more diabetes, which is a risk factor for kidney disease. You have to adapt your diet to menopause and maintain physical activity. Kidney diseases progress less quickly when you have regular physical activity.”

Obesity concerns 25% of patients arriving at the stage of dialysis.

To keep your kidneys healthy:

  • NO SMOKING : the cigarette damages the vessels of the kidney.
  • Have a balanced diet : not too much bad fat, not too much sugar…
  • Watch your weight in avoiding excess salt or animal protein.
  • Monitor your blood pressure : Untreated high blood pressure is a major cause of kidney disease and it worsens chronic kidney disease.
  • Limit your salt intake : Eating too much salt promotes high blood pressure which can affect kidney function.
  • Balance your diabetes if you have non-insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes: this type of diabetes promotes kidney problems.
  • Have regular physical activity.
  • Set up care if you suffer from obesity : obesity affects 25% of patients reaching the stage of dialysis; obese people are twice as likely to suffer from kidney disease.

Thanks to Dr. Brigitte Lantz, nephrologist at Necker Hospital and Secretary General of the Kidney Foundation.

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