Are kidney diseases hereditary ?

Hereditary diseases are said to be diseases that “run in the family”. This is when more than one person in a family has the same kind of illness. Some commonly known hereditary diseases are sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, Huntington diseases and Hemophilia which could affect multiple family members. 

Hereditary diseases are caused by gene variants (also known as mutations) and can be inherited (passed down from parent to child) but is this also the case for kidney diseases, you might wonder hence the question :“Are kidney diseases hereditary”?

YES and NO.

Some kidney conditions and disorders are as a result of genetic mutation but not all kidney diseases are hereditary because there are other underlying factors which contribute to an increased kidney disease risk.

Kidney disorders and conditions

Polycystic Kidney

Here are a few known kidney conditions with inherited genetic components.

  • Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease, a generally late-onset condition that leads to progressive cyst development. 
  • Tuberous Sclerosis, a renal disorder that affects many of the body’s systems from the eyes to the central nervous system.
  • Alport Syndrome, a condition involving inflammation of the kidneys leading to chronic renal failure (hereditary nephritis), deafness and eye abnormalities.  
  • Von-Hippel Lindau Syndrome, a hereditary cancer syndrome that can lead to tumors in a number of organs including the kidneys, cerebellum, spine, eye, inner ear, adrenal glands and pancreas. 

If one of these kidney disorders runs in your family, your chances of developing this type of inherited disease increases.

Other factors contributing to kidney diseases

Apart from Genetic variants, there are other factors responsible for the development of kidney disease.

At the forefront are environmental and social factors which are fundamental in influencing and changing the way genes work,let’s look at a few of them, 

  1. Diabetes and High blood pressure.

Did you know? 
Most kidney diseases are caused by these two hereditary conditions? 

If a close relative (parent, grandparent or sibling) has been diagnosed with one or both of them,then you are at a higher risk of developing a kidney disease.

2. Obesity and Unhealthy eating habits. 

Studies have shown that unhealthy eating habits and obesity invite kidney diseases.

3. Alcohol, Substance abuse and Smoking. 

Excessive intake of alcohol, abuse of hard drugs, smoking or use of tobacco can heavily affect the brain and also triggers kidney disease development. 

How can you lower your chances of kidney diseases? 

You can lower your risk for kidney disease by making healthy choices, such as:

*  Controlling your blood pressure

*  Controlling your blood sugar if you have diabetes

*  Following a low-salt, low-fat diet

*  Not smoking or using tobacco

*  Limiting alcohol

*  Keeping a healthy weight

*  Regular exercise. 

*.  Eating a healthy diet.

Note : Most Kidney disease do not show signs or symptoms until your kidneys are very badly damaged. So when you have diabetes, high blood pressure or a family member with kidney disease,  get tested and know your risk. Finding and treating diabetes and high blood pressure early may help prevent kidney disease.

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