Related Conditions

Many different types of kidney disease can lead to kidney failure. Here are some brief descriptions of the more common diseases:


Diabetes is the most common cause of end stage renal failure in New Zealand. It damages the filtering membranes in the kidney directly, as well as damaging blood vessels throughout the body, increasing the risk of high blood pressure which can in itself cause renal failure.

The presence of protein in the urine of diabetic patients can indicate the extent of damage to the kidney's filters.


Gout is a form of arthritis caused by increased levels of uric acid in the blood. The uric acid forms crystals and builds up in bone joints. This leads to inflammation and pain. Gout is primarily controlled with medications, such as Allopurinol, which lower uric acid levels in the blood.

Making some changes to what you eat can also help during an attack and prevent attacks from happening.

Find a detailed fact-sheet here.

High Blood Pressure (HBP)

High BP can result from chronic kidney disease, but it can also cause CKD. It damages the small vessels that deliver blood to the kidney filters, and can also damage the filters themselves. This means that if the high blood pressure is not identified and treated, it is possible for the body to enter a "vicious cycle" in which high blood pressure leads to kidney damage. Which in turn, leads to even higher blood pressure.

Effective treatment for blood pressure can greatly reduce the severity of kidney damage by half, as well as slow the progression of kidney disease.

Find a detailed fact-sheet here.

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are one of the most common disorders of the urinary tract. Kidney stones form when waste materials in your urine clump together to form a solid crystal. These can be as small as a grain of sand to as big as a golf ball. Kidney stones can block the flow of urine, cause infections and kidney damage.

The kidneys act as the filtering system for the body. The kidneys filter the good chemicals and minerals and get rid of the unwanted ones in our urine. If certain nutrients and minerals such as calcium oxalate, uric acid or phosphate build up in the kidneys, or in the urine they can form a stone. Calcium oxalate are the most common. Most stones start out small in size and grow larger over time. The stones may stay in the kidney or travel down the ureter into the bladder.

Find a detailed fact-sheet here.

Nephritis (also known as Glomerulonephritis)

Nephritis is an inflammation of the filtering units of the kidneys - the nephrons. In individuals with nephritis, the body's own immune system attacks the nephron and causes inflammation, damage and scarring.

Some forms are treatable, but most are not. In its chronic form, nephritis affects both kidneys and causes slow, progressive damage. It can occur very rapidly or very slowly, and whilst some individuals recover without treatment, others progress to chronic renal failure. Rarely hereditary, most cases of nephritis occur at random.

The little information available on causes of nephritis makes it an active area of medical research world wide.

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) or PCKD is a predominantly inherited condition that affects the kidneys. When people have PKD, abnormal fluid-filled sacs or "cysts" grow in the kidney. As these cysts grow, they can cause the kidney to grow much larger and eventually fail. PKD is the most common genetic cause of kidney disease, accounting for approximately 10% of all dialysis patients. There are two different types of polycystic kidney disease, dominant and recessive:

Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD) occurs in about 90% of cases and, for most people, symptoms usually begin between the ages of 30 and 40 but can begin earlier.  Symptoms may include pain, high blood pressure, blood in the urine and impaired kidney function.

Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease (ARPKD) this is a much less common form of PKD. This is typically a childhood disease, and the signs and symptoms often appear shortly after birth.

In very rare cases, a gene mutation may develop on its own, without inheriting the gene from either parent. This form of PKD is referred to as spontaneous.

Find a detailed fact-sheet here.

Reflux Nephropathy (RN)

Reflux nephropathy (RN) is a term used to describe renal disease caused by a backflow of urine from the bladder up the kidneys. RN can also occur if the flow of urine is obstructed for any reason, for example, by a blockage to the bladder outlet. Such as for bladder stones, over time, the kidneys may be damaged or scarred because of urinary reflux.

People with horseshoe kidney are more prone to developing reflux of urine between the bladder and kidneys.

The reflux of urine from the bladder up to the kidneys is often diagnosed in younger children with reoccurring urine infections. In these cases, while operations are sometimes performed to correct it, the reflux is often resolved spontaneously.

People with damaged or scarred kidneys as a part of reflux nephropathy can develop high blood pressure which can in turn further damage the kidneys