Causes of Kidney Failure

Although chronic kidney disease sometimes results from primary diseases of the kidneys themselves, the major causes are diabetes and high blood pressure.

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus cause a condition called diabetic nephropathy, which is the leading cause of kidney disease in the United States. 

High blood pressure (hypertension), if not controlled, can damage the kidneys over time. 

Glomerulonephritis is the inflammation and damage of the filtration system of the kidneys, which can cause kidney failure. Postinfectious conditions and lupus are among the many causes of glomerulonephritis. 

Polycystic kidney disease is an example of a hereditary cause of chronic kidney disease wherein both kidneys have multiple cysts.

Use of analgesics such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) regularly over long durations of time can cause analgesic nephropathy, another cause of kidney disease. Certain other medications can also damage the kidneys. 

Clogging and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) leading to the kidneys causes a condition called ischemic nephropathy, which is another cause of progressive kidney damage. 

Obstruction of the flow of urine by stones, an enlarged prostate, strictures (narrowings), or cancers may also cause kidney disease. 

Other causes of chronic kidney disease include HIV infection, sickle cell disease, heroin abuse, amyloidosis, kidney stones, chronic kidney infections, and certain cancers.