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Kidney failure (renal failure)


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Kidneys are made up of tiny filtration units called glomeruli. Their function is to filter waste products and excess fluid from the blood and form urine which is then passed out via the ureters. Kidney failure or renal failure means inability of the kidneys to perform filtration.


Symptoms of kidney failure

  •  Decreased urine output (sometimes)
  •  Excessive thirst
  •  Confusion and lack of concentration
  •  Unusual change in color of skin
  •  Edema in hands and feet


Causes of kidney failure

Kidney failure as doctors define is the end stage of kidney disease and this is usually chronic. Health issues that might progress to chronic kidney failure are:

  •  Problem in blood flow to kidneys
  •  Side effects of long term NSAIDs and chemotherapy drugs


Acute kidney failure is characterized by sudden or rapid loss of kidney function i.e. wastes and fluid start building up in your body. Underlying causes of acute kidney failure are:

  •  Autoimmune kidney disease
  •  Blockage in urinary tract
  •  Severe injury or trauma to kidneys


Complications of kidney failure

Kidney failure often leads to inflammation of the heart and shoots up potassium levels of the body to dangerous points. In severe cases, the kidneys might get permanently damaged, the patient might go in coma and it could be fatal as well.


Diagnosis of kidney failure

Kidney failure is certainly an emergency condition and the patient needs to be rushed to the hospital. The doctor would physically evaluate the patient and order for a CT scan or ultrasound of the kidneys.

Urinalysis and urine output would be performed to check abnormal functioning of your kidneys. Furthermore, blood tests would be ordered to perform quantitative analysis of several parameters (electrolyte balance, urea, albumin, creatinine, nitrogen levels, etc.) that symbolize kidney failure.

Heart rate, blood pressure and other vital readings would also be noted as per the condition of the patient. The doctor will thoroughly check the patient’s medical record and history of medicines.

Kidney biopsy although is specific to some patients might also be performed.


Treatment of kidney failure

Doctors are able to figure out the underlying cause of kidney failure from the diagnostic reports. The treatment would be designed accordingly.

Patients are retained in hospital until his/her condition is managed. The most obvious choice of treatment is dialysis wherein an artificial kidney filters out the toxins, minerals, wastes, excess fluids from the body.

IV drip lines would be given to maintain electrolyte balance. Apart from all these, doctors prescribe medicines as per the complications that the patient is suffering from which could be blood pressure pills, calcium supplements, antibiotics, etc.

Next rounds of check-ups would be scheduled hereafter.

Rest is advised at home. Most patients with kidney failure are given a diet chart. There are restrictions on foods, for example- he/she needs to consume foods low in potassium, sodium and phosphorous and consume more antioxidant rich foods and increase intake of water.

This is how kidney failure is managed. 

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Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: September 21, 2014

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