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Kidney Failure: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Team AckoSept 28, 2022

People suffering from Kidney Failure need regular treatment and medication. If you or your loved ones are affected by this disease, it is extremely necessary to be aware of the causes and symptoms of Kidney Failure. This article features essential points to be mindful of regarding kidney-related ailments.

Kidney Failure

What is Kidney Failure?

Kidney Failure is a condition where kidney function is reduced by 85-90%. The kidneys cannot operate well enough to keep the person alive for a long time. There is no cure for Kidney/renal failure, although it is possible to live a long life with care. People with Renal Failure can live active lives and continue to do the activities they enjoy.

What are the types of Kidney (Renal) Failure?

Diseases that reduce your kidney's ability to purify your blood can damage kidneys or hurt other sections of the body. These illnesses can lead to chronic renal disease or kidney failure. The following are two significant types of Kidney Failure.

  1. Chronic Kidney Disease: Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) occurs when long-term damage to your kidneys leads them to lose their ability to filter waste and fluid from your blood. Waste can accumulate in your body and impair your health. This damage—and your kidney function—can worsen over time, and when your kidneys cease working altogether, it is known as kidney failure. It is also known as end-stage renal disease.

  2. Acute Kidney Failure : Acute Renal Failure occurs when your kidneys suddenly lose their ability to clear excess salts, water, and waste materials from your blood. This excretion is at the heart of your kidneys' primary function. When the kidneys' filtering ability fails, body fluids can reach dangerously high levels. The illness will also cause electrolytes and waste material to collect in your body, which can be fatal.

Signs and symptoms of Kidney Failure

Early-stage Renal Failure may not manifest any symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 90% of people suffering from chronic renal disease are not aware of their condition. However, one may see the following signs if this condition progresses.

  • A decreased volume of urine 

  • Swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet

  • Drowsiness

  • Fatigue

  • Shortness of breath, sleepiness, or weariness

  • Nausea

  • Confusion

  • Seizures 

  • Pain or pressure in the chest

What causes Kidney Failure?

The following can cause Kidney Failure.

1) Issues with blood flow: The diseases that may impair blood flow to the kidneys and contribute to renal damage include the following.

  • Loss of blood or fluid

  • High blood pressure

  • Heart attack

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Infection

  • Failure of the liver

  • Medications

  • Serious burns

  • Dehydration

2) Damage to the kidneys: The conditions that have the potential to harm the kidneys and cause acute renal failure may include the following.

  • Blood clots 

  • Cholesterol deposits

  • Inflammation 

  • Hemolytic uremic syndrome

  • Infection

  • Immune system disorder

  • Medications

  • Scleroderma

  • Blood disorders

  • Toxins

  • Muscle tissue breakdown

  • Breakdown of tumor cells

3) Blockages: The following diseases and disorders can cause acute kidney damage due to urinary blockages.

  • Nerve damage

  • Kidney stones

  • Blood clots in the urinary tract

  • Enlarged prostate

  • Colon cancer

  • Cervical cancer

  • Bladder cancer

  • Prostate cancer

How do doctors diagnose Kidney Failure

Doctors use a variety of tests to monitor kidney function and identify renal failure. Here’s a list.

  • Blood tests can reveal how well the kidneys remove waste from the blood.

  • Kidney obstructions can be detected using advanced imaging.

  • Urine tests are used to determine the volume of urine or the presence of specific compounds in urine, such as protein or blood.

Stages of kidney diseases

The severity of kidney disease is measured with the help of GFR. It is an abbreviation for ‘Glomerular Filtration Rate’. A GFR of 60 or greater is normal. If it is less than 60, it may indicate Renal Disease. A GFR of 15 or less may indicate Renal Failure. Here are the different stages of kidney disease.

Early stage

Stage GFR
1 Normal or high GFR (GFR > 90 mL/min)
2 Mild CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) (GFR = 60-89 mL/min)
3A Moderate CKD (GFR = 45-59 mL/min)
3B Moderate CKD (GFR = 30-44 mL/min)

Late stage

Stage GFR
4 Severe CKD (GFR = 15-29 mL/min)
5 End Stage CKD (GFR <15 mL/min)

Treatment procedures for Kidney Failure

Here is a list of possible treatment methods for Kidney Failure.

  1. Dialysis: A machine is used during dialysis to purify your blood. You can undergo dialysis at home or at a facility. Dialysis cannot replace the parts of healthy kidneys. This implies that even when you receive dialysis, you may still have some health issues related to Renal Failure.

  2. Kidney transplantation: During a kidney transplant, you are given a healthy kidney from someone else's body via surgery. A living or deceased donor's kidneys may be used in a transplant. Note that a kidney transplant is a treatment, not a cure, for Renal Failure. 

  3. Medication: If you opt not to have dialysis or a transplant, medical treatment can allow you to live comfortably and participate in some activities. Medical therapy uses medication and kidney-friendly food to alleviate symptoms and make you feel better. 

  4. Clinical studies: A clinical trial is a research study designed to determine how effectively a drug works and whether it is safe. It relies on volunteers and researchers to ensure their safety by following a research strategy that experts have evaluated. Clinical trials for renal illness look at the factors mentioned below.

  • New kidney disease therapies or techniques to alleviate symptoms

  • Methods for improving current treatments

  • New methods for detecting kidney disease symptoms

Prevention of Kidney Failure

Following are ways in which you can avoid a risk of Kidney Failure.

By eating a balanced diet

A healthy, balanced diet helps lower your risk of kidney disease by maintaining appropriate blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Eat fruits and vegetables daily, along with meals that include starchy foods like rice, potatoes or pasta. Include a few dairy products or substitutes. 

Your diet must have a protein source, including pulses, fish, meat, eggs, beans, etc. Consider reducing the daily intake of saturated fats, sugar, and salt. Additionally, Dietitians may make dietary recommendations for kidney disease, such as lowering your potassium or phosphate intake.

By using painkillers with caution

Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen, can lead to kidney damage if taken excessively or for longer than advised. Make sure to adhere to the medication's directions if you take such painkillers.

By exercising regularly

Every week, it is advised to engage in at least a few hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as cycling or fast walking, and two or more days of strength training that targets all muscle groups.

By limiting your alcohol intake

Your blood pressure and cholesterol levels may increase to harmful levels if you consume too much alcohol. The most excellent method to lower your risk is to stick to the advised alcohol limit. People are encouraged to spread their consumption over three days or longer when drinking more than 14 units per week. 

Kidney Failure Risk Factors

Risk factors like an individual's genetic and phenotypic makeup make them susceptible to kidney illness. Race, gender, age, and family history are all significant factors. 

For example, Some risk factors for chronic kidney disease include having a low birth weight, a family history of renal disease, being of African American descent, etc..

Additionally, kidney disease can be brought on by smoking, being overweight, or having high blood pressure. A patient with uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension, or both can quickly advance to end-stage renal disease. Risks include exposure to heavy metals, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, and taking analgesics. 

Additional risk factors include hyperlipidemia, cardiovascular disease, HIV infection, hepatitis C virus, metabolic syndrome, acute renal injury, and malignancy.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some common questions and their answers about Kidney Failure.

Can people suffer from chronic kidney disease and still not notice any signs?

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People can suffer from chronic kidney disease and still not notice any signs as kidney disease can proceed slowly and steadily over many years, if not decades.

Who is a nephrologist?

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A nephrologist is a doctor who focuses on kidney-related ailments.

Is it okay to drink more fluid if I have a kidney disorder?

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People with this disorder must be extremely cautious about their fluid consumption. Patients who do not monitor their fluid consumption may gain weight and develop edema (swelling) due to water retention. This additional fluid can raise blood pressure, make breathing difficult, and/or create cardiac problems.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet. As this content piece is not vetted by a medical professional, please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.

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