Kidney Failure

Kidney failure occurs when one or both kidneys aren't able to work normally. The kidneys remove waste in the form of urine from the body. They also balance the water and electrolyte content in the blood by filtering salt and water. Kidney failure is divided into two categories:

  • Causes

    Kidney disease causes the tiny filters in the kidneys called nephrons to lose their ability to filter. Damage to the nephrons may occur suddenly after an injury or poisoning. But, many kidney diseases take years or even decades to cause damage that is noticeable.

    The two most commons causes of kidney disease are:

    • Diabetes
      —high blood sugar can damage nephrons
    • High blood pressure
      —severe high blood pressure can damage blood vessels in the kidneys

    Others causes include:

    • Pyelonephritis
    • Glomerulonephritis
    • Polycystic kidney disease
    • Birth defects
    • Bilateral renal artery stenosis
    • Poisoning

    • Severe
      trauma

    • Viral infections such as
      hepatitis B
      ,
      hepatitis C
      ,
      and
      HIV/AIDS
    • Long-term use of medicines that contain
      aspirin,
      acetaminophen,
      or
      ibuprofen

    • Abnormal build-up of substances within the kidneys such as
      amyloidosis
      and protein build-up

    • Toxic reaction to drugs or
      x-ray
      dyes

    • Systemic diseases such as
      lupus,
      polyarteritis
      ,
      and
      Wegeners granulomatosis

    • Conditions that severely decrease the amount of blood such as
      burns
      ,
      pancreatitis
      ,
      peritonitis
      , bleeding, and dehydration

    • Conditions that make it difficult to urinate such as
      enlarged prostate
      ,
      kidney stones
      , and tumors
    Renal Failure
    Kidney failure stones
    A blockage from kidney stones has caused renal failure.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Definition

    Kidney failure occurs when one or both kidneys aren't able to work normally. The kidneys remove waste in the form of urine from the body. They also balance the water and electrolyte content in the blood by filtering salt and water.

    Kidney failure is divided into two categories:

    • Acute kidney failure
      —sudden loss of kidney function
    • Chronic kidney failure
      —slow, gradual loss of kidney function

  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

    Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:

    • Blood tests
    • Urine tests
    • Biopsy


    Images may be taken of your kidneys, bladder, and ureters. This can be done with a
    renal ultrasound
    .

  • Prevention

    In some cases, you cannot prevent kidney failure. But, there are some steps you can take that will lower your risk:

    • Maintain normal blood pressure.
    • If you have diabetes, control your blood sugar.

    • Avoid long-term exposure to toxic substances, such as
      lead
      and solvents.

    • Do not abuse
      alcohol
      or over-the-counter pain medication.
    • If you have chronic kidney failure, talk to your doctor before you become pregnant.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your chance of developing kidney failure include:

    • Diabetes

    • Genetics:
      polycystic kidney disease
      and
      type 1 diabetes
    • Race: African American
    • High blood pressure
    • Lupus
      or other autoimmune diseases

    • Long-term use of
      pain medications
      containing aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in high doses

    • Liver failure,
      jaundice
    • Respiratory failure
    • HIV
    • Cancer

    • Recent
      open heart surgery

    • Recent surgery on an
      abdominal aortic aneurysm
    • Condition that obstructs urine flow
    • Enlargement of the prostate gland

  • Symptoms

    Some kidney diseases begin without any symptoms. As the disease progresses, some of the following symptoms may develop:

    • Fluid retention
    • Swollen and numb hands and feet, itchy skin

    • Fatigue,
      insomnia
    • Low urine output or no urine output in severe cases, frequent urination
    • Altered consciousness
    • Loss of appetite, malnutrition
    • Sores
      , bad taste in the mouth
    • Nausea, vomiting
    • Muscle cramps and twitches
    • Shortness of breath
    • High blood pressure
    • Low temperature
    • Seizures
      ,
      coma
    • Breath smelling like urine
    • Yellowish-brownish skin tone

  • Treatment


    Most chronic kidney diseases are not reversible. But, there are treatments that may be used to help preserve as much kidney function as possible. In the case of
    acute renal failure
    , treatment focuses on the illness or injury that caused the problem.

    • Restricting fluids
    • Doing daily weight checks

    • Eating a high-carbohydrate,
      low-protein diet