In acute kidney failure, your kidneys suddenly become unable to filter waste products from your blood. Acute renal failure is most common in hospitalized critically ill patients, especially those requiring intensive care. For more information, you can read our article below.
What is acute kidney failure?
Acute kidney failure is a disease that occurs when the kidney suddenly fails to remove waste products from your blood. When the kidneys lose their ability to filter, dangerous amounts of waste can build up and the chemical components of your blood can degrade.
Acute kidney failure usually occurs in less than a few days. This disease is mostly seen in hospitalized patients, especially in severe patients who require intensive care. At times, this condition can be very serious and require rigorous treatment. Even a kidney transplant may be required as a last resort.
What causes acute kidney failure?
This disease can most often occur in the following situations:
- You have a condition that slows blood flow to your kidneys.
- You are directly damaging your kidneys.
- The urinary drainage tubes (ureters) of your kidneys are blocked.
1- Impaired blood flow to the kidneys
A number of diseases that can disrupt blood flow to the kidneys and cause some kidney damage are listed below:
- blood or fluid loss
- blood pressure medications
- Heart attack
- Heart disease
- Liver failure
- Use of certain drugs
- severe allergic reaction
- severe burns
2- Damage to the kidneys
The following diseases and conditions are likely to damage the kidneys and may lead to acute renal failure:
- blood clots in the veins and arteries around the kidneys
- cholesterol deposits in the kidneys that block blood flow
- A condition caused by red blood cells
- Lupus (butterfly disease)
- Some chemotherapy drugs or antibiotics that have to be used during some treatments
- Some rare blood diseases
- Toxins such as alcohol, heavy metals, and cocaine and heroin
- Damage of toxins to muscle tissue
3- Urinary obstruction in the kidneys
Diseases that prevent the passage of urine from the body trigger the possibility of acute kidney failure. Some of these are listed below:
- bladder cancer
- blood clots in the urinary tract
- cervical cancer
- Colon cancer
- enlarged prostate
- Kidney stone
- Nerve damage involving the nerves that control the bladder
- Prostate cancer
Who is at risk?
This almost always occurs in conjunction with another condition. Here are some conditions that can increase your risk of developing acute kidney failure:
- Situations that require intensive care
- blood vessel blockages in your arms and legs
- advancing age
- Liver diseases
- kidney diseases
- Heart failure
- Some cancers and treatments
What are the symptoms of acute kidney failure?
Symptoms of acute kidney failure usually include:
- Decreased urine output
- fluid retention
- Shortness of breath
- feeling weak
- irregular heartbeat
- chest pain
- kidney pain
- Seizure in severe cases
Sometimes kidney failure does not cause symptoms and is detected by tests for another reason.
When should you see a doctor?
It is useful to see a doctor without delay and seek emergency help if you have related symptoms. In such a case, the sooner treatment is started, the better.
How is acute kidney failure diagnosed?
If your symptoms suggest you have acute kidney failure, your doctor may recommend certain tests and procedures to confirm your diagnosis.
These may include:
- Urine output measurements: Measuring how much urine you urinate in 24 hours can help your doctor determine the cause of your kidney failure.
- Urine tests: Analyzing a sample of your urine (urinalysis) can reveal abnormalities that indicate kidney failure.
- Blood tests: A sample of your blood can reveal relevant values that rise rapidly. These contribute to the measurement of kidney function.
- Imaging tests: Imaging tests such as ultrasound and computed tomography may be used to help your doctor see your kidneys.
- Removing a sample of kidney tissue for testing: In some cases, your doctor may recommend a kidney biopsy to remove a small sample of kidney tissue for lab testing . Your doctor inserts a needle through your skin and into your kidney to remove the sample.
How is acute kidney failure treated?
Treatment for this disease typically requires hospitalization. Most people with this condition are hospitalized. How long you stay in the hospital depends on the cause of your acute kidney failure and how quickly your kidneys heal. In some cases, recovery may occur at home.
Treating the underlying cause of your kidney damage
Treatment involves identifying the disease or injury that damaged your kidneys in the first place. Your treatment options depend on what is causing your kidney failure.
treating complications until your kidneys heal
Your doctor will also take steps to prevent complications and allow time for your kidneys to heal.
Treatments that help prevent complications include:
- Treatments to balance the amount of fluid in your blood: If your acute kidney failure is due to a lack of fluid in your blood, your doctor may recommend intravenous fluids. In other cases, this disease can cause too much fluid in your arms and legs, leading to swelling. In these cases, your doctor may recommend medications ( diuretics ) to cause your body to expel extra fluids .
- Medicines to control blood potassium: If your kidneys are not filtering potassium from your blood properly, your doctor may prescribe certain medicines to prevent high levels of potassium from building up in your blood. Too much potassium in the blood can cause dangerously irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) and muscle weakness.
- Medicines to restore blood calcium levels: If your blood calcium levels are too low, your doctor may recommend a calcium infusion .
- Dialysis to remove toxins from your blood: If toxins build up in your blood, you may need temporary hemodialysis (often called dialysis ) to help remove toxins and excess fluid from your body while your kidneys heal . Dialysis can also help remove excess potassium from your body. During dialysis, a machine pumps waste out of your body through an artificial kidney (dialyzer) that filters waste from your blood. The blood then returns to your body.
Nutrition in acute renal failure
During your recovery from acute kidney failure, your doctor may recommend a special diet to help support your kidneys and limit the work they have to do.
Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian who can analyze your current diet and suggest ways to make dieting easier on your kidneys.
Depending on your situation, your dietitian may recommend:
- Choosing low potassium foods: Your dietitian may recommend choosing lower potassium foods. High-potassium foods include bananas, oranges, potatoes, spinach and tomatoes. Examples of low-potassium foods are apples, cauliflower, peppers, grapes, and strawberries.
- Avoiding products with added salt: You can reduce the amount of sodium you eat each day by avoiding products that contain salt, including many convenience foods such as frozen meals, canned soups, and fast food. Other foods with added salt include salty snack foods, canned vegetables, and processed meats and cheeses.
- Limit phosphorus: Phosphorus is a mineral found in foods like whole grain bread, oatmeal, whole grains, cola, nuts, and peanut butter. Too much phosphorus in your blood can weaken your bones and cause body itching. Your dietitian can give you specific recommendations on how to limit phosphorus.
Can acute kidney failure be prevented?
Acute kidney failure is often difficult to predict or prevent. But you can reduce your risk by taking care of your kidneys. You can try:
- Pay attention to labels when taking pain medications: Ask your doctor for over-the-counter pain medications. Taking too much of these drugs can increase your risk of kidney damage. This is especially true if you have pre-existing kidney disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.
- Work with your doctor to manage kidney damage and other chronic conditions: If you have kidney disease, diabetes, or another condition that increases your risk of acute kidney failure, such as high blood pressure, follow treatment goals and follow your doctor’s recommendations for managing your condition.
- Make a healthy lifestyle a priority: Be active. Eat a reasonable, well-balanced diet and stop drinking alcohol, if you can’t, limit it.