Genetics and Kidney Disease

Kidney disease encompasses a range of conditions that impair the proper functioning of the kidneys. Kidney disease can show up in a wide range of forms, including chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury, kidney stones, or an infection. Also referred to as “renal disease,” kidney disease impacts the vital functions your kidney plays in your overall health. This is because your kidneys are responsible for crucial tasks, such as filtering waste products, regulating fluid balance, and maintaining blood pressure. Kidney disease impacts millions of people across the globe and early detection is key to managing its impact. Below you will find more information about the condition, including the connection between genetics and kidney disease.

Genetics and Kidney Disease

While many conditions are linked to your family history, not all diseases that run in families are linked to genetic variants. This is because environmental factors and certain lifestyle choices can contribute to the development of certain conditions, including kidney disease. When assessing your risk for a condition, it’s important to take both your genetics and environmental factors into consideration. Despite the complexity of kidney disease when it comes to environmental factors, there are certain genetic variations that are linked to an increased risk for the condition. This is especially true in under-resourced communities of color.

Some of the genetic variations include the MYH9 and APOL1 genes. The MYH9 gene provides instructions for making a protein that helps cells, including kidney cells, contract and move. When there are changes in this gene, it can lead to abnormalities in the kidney structure and function. Additionally, certain variants of the APOL1 gene can increase the risk of kidney disease, especially in individuals with African ancestry. These gene variants are still being studied, but it is believed that they can result in the kidneys being more vulnerable to damage and disease.

Risk Factors Associated With Kidney Disease

Numerous environmental and social factors have a serious influence on the functioning of genes. Because of this, it can ultimately shape their impact on your overall health. In addition to genetics there are certain underlying causes, environmental factors, and lifestyle habits that can increase your risk for kidney disease.

Underlying Causes:

Certain underlying conditions can increase your risk for kidney disease. Chronic conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes, in addition to high blood pressure, diabetes, and certain autoimmune disease. It is critical to work with an internal medicine kidney specialist on ways to reduce your risk for further complications if you have any underlying medical conditions.

Environmental Factors:

Several environmental factors increase your risk for kidney disease. Things like exposure to air pollution and contaminated water containing heavy metals and toxins. Certain occupations that involve exposure to heavy metals, solvents, pesticides, or toxins can also increase your risk. It’s necessary to take protective measures where you can to reduce the impact environmental factors can have on your health.

Lifestyle Choices:

Lifestyle choices can have a huge impact on your overall health, including your risk for kidney disease. Things like smoking, living a sedentary lifestyle, poor dietary habits, and neglecting your mental health can be harmful to your health. It’s important to focus on living a balanced lifestyle that involves a healthy diet, regular exercise, and avoiding drinking or drinking in moderation. Talk with a chronic kidney disease specialist about additional ways to reduce your risk for harmful kidney diseases.

Kidney Disease Treatment

Kidney disease affects millions of people worldwide. It has significant implications when it comes to your overall health and well-being. Early detection and proper management of kidney disease are crucial in preserving kidney function, preventing complications, and improving your quality of life.